Sustainability scientist calls for careful oversight of environmental gene editing

James P. CollinsAround the world, scientists are solving serious issues using modern technology. Whether the solution is genetically modified, malaria-fighting mosquitoes or other gene editing technologies, Arizona State University sustainability scientist James P. Collins is calling for careful risk assessment. Collins, the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment at ASU's School of Life Sciences, co-authored a paper published in the journal "Science." The authors urgently encourage global governance to review new technologies on a a case-by-case basis β€” a decision-making process that must include the local communities that would feel the biggest and most immediate effects. According to the authors, it is crucial that these innovative solutions must be handled with caution and care. Without the proper scrutiny of each case, the solutions could have unintended side-effects that could get out of hand. β€œThe burden of infectious diseases such as malaria or the Zika virus is a heavy one for communities to bear,” said Collins. "At the same time, in the area of unintended consequences, you really want to have done the very best work possible, the very analysis possible, in terms of risk assessment.”