Research Topic

Regulation and Governance of Gene Editing Technologies (CRISPR, etc.)

About this Research Topic

The award of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for their studies of CRISPR marked the acknowledgment of dramatic achievements in gene editing technologies. CRISPR and other techniques provide new ways to modify genes that are quicker and easier to apply, and which offer greater precision than has been attainable with older techniques. Gene editing can be understood as a ‘gateway technology’; these techniques offer versatile, accessible tools for use in experimental settings, they have broad application, and their advantages over existing practices resulting in widespread, rapid and far-reaching adoption in a range of sectors. Gene editing opens up innumerable possibilities to modify organisms – from plants and microorganisms, to animals and humans. The areas of application range from human health and reproduction to agriculture, industrial manufacture (for example of biofuels), control of harmful or invasive species, and other, emerging possibilities such as biocomputing (encoding data in living systems), recreating extinct species, biowarfare and bioterrorism, and do-it-yourself biology also known as bio-backing where individuals conduct experiments outside formal institutional settings. As a result, gene editing also poses formidable issues around ethics, health, safety, security, environmental preservation and justice.

Together with our online workshop, this Research Topic aims to gather scholars from the fields of political science, public policy, regulation, law, economics, sociology, anthropology and related disciplines who are interested in the use and impact of gene editing on society. We welcome papers that especially address – without being limited to – the following issues:

• To what extent are the possibilities offered by gene editing adequately covered by existing regulations?
• Are there gaps in regulation that might allow harmful or dangerous innovations? Or conversely are there prohibitions in current regulations that might inhibit desirable applications of gene editing?
• Is it possible, or desirable, to co-ordinate regulation of gene editing across sectors and jurisdictions, and if so how might this be orchestrated?
• What role should the government have in the development and oversight of gene editing technologies?
• Do gene editing technologies and gene editing organisms raise any new issues for intellectual property rights or exacerbate any existing challenges?
• How differently are gene editing technologies regulated across countries?
• How does the development of gene editing technologies affect the political economy of the agriculture sector and related international trade?
• How does the development of gene editing technologies affect the political economy of the pharmaceutical sector and healthcare?
• How does gene editing affect international development? What opportunities or challenges does gene editing pose for Low and Middle Income Countries?
• How does gene editing impact the environment and biodiversity?
• What are the prospects for and politics of human enhancement through gene editing?
• How might gene editing affect the discourse and practice of human rights?


Keywords: Gene-Editing, CRISPR, Regulation, Governance, Political Economy, Health Care, Human Rights


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The award of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier for their studies of CRISPR marked the acknowledgment of dramatic achievements in gene editing technologies. CRISPR and other techniques provide new ways to modify genes that are quicker and easier to apply, and which offer greater precision than has been attainable with older techniques. Gene editing can be understood as a ‘gateway technology’; these techniques offer versatile, accessible tools for use in experimental settings, they have broad application, and their advantages over existing practices resulting in widespread, rapid and far-reaching adoption in a range of sectors. Gene editing opens up innumerable possibilities to modify organisms – from plants and microorganisms, to animals and humans. The areas of application range from human health and reproduction to agriculture, industrial manufacture (for example of biofuels), control of harmful or invasive species, and other, emerging possibilities such as biocomputing (encoding data in living systems), recreating extinct species, biowarfare and bioterrorism, and do-it-yourself biology also known as bio-backing where individuals conduct experiments outside formal institutional settings. As a result, gene editing also poses formidable issues around ethics, health, safety, security, environmental preservation and justice.

Together with our online workshop, this Research Topic aims to gather scholars from the fields of political science, public policy, regulation, law, economics, sociology, anthropology and related disciplines who are interested in the use and impact of gene editing on society. We welcome papers that especially address – without being limited to – the following issues:

• To what extent are the possibilities offered by gene editing adequately covered by existing regulations?
• Are there gaps in regulation that might allow harmful or dangerous innovations? Or conversely are there prohibitions in current regulations that might inhibit desirable applications of gene editing?
• Is it possible, or desirable, to co-ordinate regulation of gene editing across sectors and jurisdictions, and if so how might this be orchestrated?
• What role should the government have in the development and oversight of gene editing technologies?
• Do gene editing technologies and gene editing organisms raise any new issues for intellectual property rights or exacerbate any existing challenges?
• How differently are gene editing technologies regulated across countries?
• How does the development of gene editing technologies affect the political economy of the agriculture sector and related international trade?
• How does the development of gene editing technologies affect the political economy of the pharmaceutical sector and healthcare?
• How does gene editing affect international development? What opportunities or challenges does gene editing pose for Low and Middle Income Countries?
• How does gene editing impact the environment and biodiversity?
• What are the prospects for and politics of human enhancement through gene editing?
• How might gene editing affect the discourse and practice of human rights?


Keywords: Gene-Editing, CRISPR, Regulation, Governance, Political Economy, Health Care, Human Rights


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

17 February 2021 Abstract
27 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

17 February 2021 Abstract
27 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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