Online conference Thursday, 15. October 2020

Gene Drives – Protecting People and Nature through Genetic Extermination?

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Date, Time
Thu, 15. Oct 2020,
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm Save in my calendar
➽ Online Event

Simultaneous translation
Entrance Fee
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Free of charge
Heinrich Böll Foundation - Headquarter Berlin
Part of the series
Contested Nature

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been dealing with the regulation of modern biotechnology for many years. Gene drive technology is particularly controversial in this context. With this new form of genetic engineering, wild animal and plant populations or species could be genetically modified, replaced or even eradicated in the future. Its developers hope that it will exterminate the malaria-transmitting mosquito, decimate invasive rats and mice to protect threatened ecosystems, and manage so-called pests in agriculture. Gene drives override the basic rules of evolution and natural selection by passing on up to 100 percent of selected traits to all offspring – even if those traits are harmful or deadly to the organisms. Gene drive technology opens up a new dimension of human intervention into nature and harbors innumerable risks.

Using the example of gene drives to combat malaria, this online seminar will show how the technology works, who is developing, financing and promoting its application, what risks it poses, how it is being discussed in affected countries, and why the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is grappling with the question for a global moratorium on its use.


  • Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher (Molecular biologist and geneticist, board member of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility – ENSSER)

  • Ali Tapsoba de Goamma (Human rights and environmental activist, President of Terre a Vie, Spokesperson for Collectif Citoyen pour l'Agroécologie (CCAE), Burkina Faso)

  • Dr. Andreas Wulf (Expert in global health issues, Medico International)

  • Mareike Imken (Head of the European Stop Gene Drive campaign, Save Our Seeds)

  • Presenter: Christiane Grefe (Author, Global Gardening: Bioökonomie - Neuer Raubbau oder Wirtschaftsform der Zukunft? [Bioeconomy - New Overexploitation or Economic Form of the Future?] and editor, Die ZEIT)

Languages: simultaneous interpreting in German, English, French

Free of charge

Mareike Imken
Save Our Seeds


NoteThis is the second event of our online series

Contested Nature: Land use, climate protection and new genetic technologies in the context of the debate on the protection of biological diversity

The issue is even bigger than climate change alone: Research is alerting us to the dramatic destruction of the natural foundations of life on Earth and warning of a sixth mass extinction. As early as 2010 – under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – the international community committed to halting the global loss of biodiversity by 2020. Not only has this goal been missed; the global extinction of species has actually accelerated.

The next Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP 15), postponed to 2021, is therefore of enormous importance: International biodiversity policy needs to establish a new framework and decide on new goals.

But the potential for conflict is great and there is a wide range of considerations vying for attention. Many, highly diverse interests are at play with regard to the protection, use and marketing of biological diversity. The focus in this regard is on questions of land use and access to natural resources as well as issues pertaining to assessing the impact of technology and its regulation.   

Contested Nature: Land use, climate protection and new genetic technologies in the context of the debate on the protection of biological diversity, a series of events jointly organized by Brot für die Welt, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Save Our Seeds and the Centre for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America (FDCL), will therefore hone in on complex issues that often receive little attention in traditional nature conservation debates. In this context, we will also address the question of political influence on the CBD and the opportunities for and obstacles to civil-society engagement. 

Further events:

24 September: UN Convention on Biological Diversity at a crossroads?
29 October:  Who will profit from biological diversity in the future? Digital sequence information (DSI) and its potential for new forms of biopiracy
18 November: Saving biodiversity and the climate with “natural climate solutions”?

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You may either use the software client or the app. The internet browsers Chrome and Edge will enable you to participate simply via an access link. Further information on how to use Zoom is available here.

The access information will be sent to you via e-mail 24 h prior to the event and, again, 2 h prior to the event.

All events are subject to our privacy policy. The Heinrich Böll Foundation is not liable for issues arising from the use of Zoom software. The current Zoom privacy policy is available here.