On 11 October 2017, the Policy Mini-Hackathon on Future Security Challenges of Genome-Editing Technologies will take place in Hanover, Germany. Organised by the GYA incubator group “DIY Synthetic Biology”, this event will take place in the context of the International Workshop on “Assessing the Security Implications of Genome-Editing Technology” organised by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC), the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

The policy hackathon addresses the increased capabilities in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) biotechnology development communities. While the potential positive impacts of genome-editing are immense, there is also a growing concern that accelerated progress and widespread use of genome-editing could facilitate harmful outcomes. A lesson from the past is that secrecy, competitive agendas, and a lack of an interdisciplinary dialogue in the development of nuclear physics in the 20th century allowed for the inhumane testing and failed to prevent weaponization of these technologies. Effective communication and sound ethical reflection are therefore key components towards ensuring societal acceptability also in new fields of research.

This interactive mini-hackathon focuses on approaches to predict and address security risks associated with technological progress in the field of genome editing. The hackathon will be a first of its kind pilot event to explore mechanisms by which DIY communities can contribute to the development of science policy for the rapidly advancing field of genome editing.

A primary goal of the hackathon is to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborative mechanisms to assess potential security risks, build capacity to evaluate and mitigate identified risks, and develop policy tools to counteract future problems and increase mutual trust between scientific community, policy makers, and members of the public.

As an outcome of this hackathon the GYA group on Synthetic Biology aims to publish policy briefs and policy recommendations to ensure further implementation of the results.