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Exterminator Genes: The Right to Say No to Ethics Dumping


The scientific-industrial complex is promoting a new wave of genetically modified organisms, in particular gene drive organisms, using the same hype with which they tried to persuade society that GMOs would be a magic bullet to solve world hunger. The Gates Foundation claims that GDOs could help wipe out diseases such as malaria. Powerful conservation lobby groups claim GDOs will protect engendered species. Not only are the benefits from GDOs based, like their predecessors, on flawed ecological thinking, but they are backed by the same agri-business interests that have devastated agroecological farming systems. The rights of communities to say ‘no’ to new genetic technologies is being eroded, despite United Nations agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, which call for the free, prior and informed consent of affected communities to be respected. By exporting their field trials to countries with weak regulatory regimes and lowering of the standards of consent the Gates Foundation’s Target Malaria project has already been guilty of ethics dumping. These developments demonstrate the urgent need to democratize the development of new technologies.

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Correspondence to Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje.

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Bassey-Orovwuje, M., Thomas, J. & Wakeford, T. Exterminator Genes: The Right to Say No to Ethics Dumping. Development 62, 121–127 (2019).

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  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Gene drive organisms
  • Ethics dumping
  • Convention on biological diversity