to focus attention on the putative hazards of research and to mobilize
resources for further inquiry, while dampening the momentum which a
promising line of research accumulates.”121
Second, scientific bias in favor of a hot new technology needs to be
counteracted. Some external entity, like the former Office of Technology
Assessment, can offer a systematic approach to risk assessment. Researchers
in academic and industry have a vested interest in the research, inescapably,
and their biases needed to be counterbalanced by a neutral regulatory body.122
Third, an external review organization needs the time and resources to
conduct the technology assessment, to generate a full and complete record on
the risks, and to give voice to all the interests involved, including the public.
Fourth, public participation in some form is needed, as Jasanoff et al.
suggest.123 The extent of public participation has often been cited as a goal
against which to measure various approaches to technological problems.124
Public participation has many benefits.125 First, alternative viewpoints may
offer new perspectives.126 Second, in a partisan political world where elites
are viewed with suspicion, real public participation may increase public
confidence in the decision-making process.127 Third, we want to find ways
to give individuals some form of say in risks, even if the conclusion of a
public process is that the risks are low, or are well worth encountering once
understood.128 Fourth, an ethical framework is needed to consider the long-term effects of CRISPR on human populations, where germline editing
allows the transfer of new traits to future generations.129
Suppose we consider a moratorium such as Hank Greely has suggested.130
Will the academic laboratories be joined by the private companies who have
gambled with venture capital money on the possibilities of breakthrough
treatments? It is easier to outline relevant values to consider in assessing a
121. Furrow, supra note 2, at 1421 (surveying the problem of regulating emerging risks
in the face of uncertainty).
123. See generally CRISPR Democracy, supra note 29.
124. See generally DOROTHY NELKIN, TECHNOLOGICAL DECISIONS AND DEMOCRACY:
EUROPEAN EXPERIMENTS IN PUBLIC PARTICIPATION (1977).
125. Furrow, supra note 2, at 1422.
128. See generally Charis Thompson, Governance, Regulation, and Control: Of Which
People, By Which People, For Which People? International Summit on Human Gene Editing,
Washington, D. C. December 2015 (explaining that these conversations need to include
everyone, not just stakeholders).
129. We have seen some excellent first steps with the NAM Report sections written by
bioethicists on the Committee, as well as some earlier writings, e.g. Charo & Greely, supra
note 116, at 14-15; Niklaus H. Evitt, et al., Human Germline CRISPR-Cas Modification:
Toward a Regulatory Framework, 15 AM. J. BIOETHICS 25, 25 (2015).