A Question of Life Panelists Respond to Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization

In December 2021, the Global Observatory held an online workshop titled A Question of Life. We asked several of the panelists to shed light on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision by comparing the framings of abortion politics and constellations of rights and responsibilities across their respective countries of focus.

CRISPR Democracy

In Issues in Science and Technology, the Observatory's Directors argue that the precedent of expert self-governance set by Asilomar is not sufficient for the necessary public engagement and deliberation around genome editing technologies.

First, Too Late: Priority, Laterality and Transversality in the International Governance of Human Genome Editing

Peter Mills, Nuffield Council on Bioethics argues that what has been missing from public debate is a venue for the expression and comparison of excluded interests, insights and values that are often unrepresented in the preeminent venues of international dialogue on heritable genome editing.

Constitutionalism at the Nexus of Life and Law

J. Benjamin Hurlbut, Sheila Jasanoff, and Krishanu Saha guest-edited the November 2020 issue of the journal Science, Technology, & Human Values. This essay introduces a collection of articles gathered under the theme of “law, science, and constitutions of life.” Together, they explore how revolutions in notions of what biological life is are eliciting correspondingly revolutionary imaginations of how life should be governed.

Democratic Governance of Human Germline Genome Editing

An international regulatory commission convened by scientific academies is a premature and problematic approach to governing human germline genome editing. Given the complex, international landscape of genome editing and significant cross-national differences among regulatory cultures, deferring to a single commission to set the agenda for global governance raises troublesome questions of framing and representation.

Editorial Aspirations: Human Integrity at the Frontiers of Biology

The Global Observatory for Genome Editing grew out of this event, which took place at Harvard University in 2017. It drew together a diverse group of international leaders, including scientists who made fundamental contributions to the development of CRISPR, the former chair of the German National Ethics Council, a member of the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the director of bioethics at the World Health Organization, the chair of the secretariat on Biomedicine and Human Rights at the Council of Europe, and numerous others.

CRISPR Democracy: Gene Editing and the Need for Inclusive Deliberation

CRISPR raises basic questions about the rightful place of science in governing the future in democratic societies. This editorial argues that the 1975 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA is a poor model for governance of emerging gene editing technologies. The authors argue that study and deliberation can be steered in more democratic directions by focusing on four themes: envisioning futures, distribution, trust, and provisionality.