The Australian Citizens' Jury on Genome Editing

On 17th - 20th June 2021, twenty-four ordinary Australians will convene at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in Canberra to form the national citizens jury on genome editing.  They will hear from experts about genome editing technologies and will deliberate on how public policy should regulate them.  

 

This event is co-organised by the Centre for Law and Genetics at the University of Tasmania in collaboration with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra funded by the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund Genomics Health Futures Mission.  For more information please visit the following pages: The OrganisersOur Research Agenda and Our Impact Agenda.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

What is a Citizens' Jury?

The thinking behind a citizens' jury it is as simple as it is sounds. When ordinary citizens are given the chance to receive credible information, the opportunity to exchange their ideas with a diverse group of other citizens, and the time to reflect on their views, they are willing and able to come up with recommendations to shared problems.

Learn more about citizens' juries at these websites:

 

What is at Stake?

We can now edit any genes in almost any living thing with unprecedented ease. Although there is much we still do not know, genome editing offers vast new possibilities for improving human and ecological wellbeing, while posing major risks and ethical challenges.

 

It is one thing to use genome editing to cure or protect against diseases but what if the technology can be used to “perfect” some humans when it comes not just to physical characteristics, but also cognitive ones? Where is the dividing line between protecting and perfecting?  

 

It is also one thing to use genome editing on a consenting adult, but quite another thing to make changes that will be passed on, or inherited, by our children and their children. How do we decide whether, and under what terms, heritable forms of genome editing should be allowed?

 

The demand to place the public at the centre of the regulatory discussion is growing. But we live in an era of disinformation and political polarization, of declining trust in science and politics. Is meaningful democratic discussion and legitimate public judgment on complex technologies and moral disagreements possible?

 

We believe that ordinary citizens, not just professional ethicists, and scientists, have the capacity to deliberate effectively about what it means to be human. Such capacity has been demonstrated in national-level deliberations on many topics, and Australia has been one of the world’s trailblazers in using deliberative democratic approaches to generate considered judgment among ordinary citizens.

 

We are convening a national citizens' jury on genome editing to identify the acceptable range of ethical positions and practices, which in turn, can inform the decisions of policymakers in Australia and decision-makers around the world.

Who is funding the event?

The two-year citizens jury study ‘Genome Editing: Formulating an Australian Community Response’ is funded by the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund Genomics Health Futures Mission.

 

What is the Global Citizens' Assembly?

 

The Australian Citizens' Jury is designed to lead into the world’s first Global Citizens’ Assembly on genome editing.

 

The Global Citizens’ Assembly will bring together at least one hundred participants representing different countries across all continents most affected by genome editing. Participants will take part in five days of deliberations about the global principles of governance of genome editing. They will have access to eminent scientists at the forefront of genomic research, ethicists, and other stakeholders. They will have the ear of decision-makers at national and global levels.

 

A Global Citizens’ Assembly provides a concrete response to the urgent ethical and regulatory questions in relation to genome-editing technologies. The recommendations of the global citizens assembly will be turned over to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Directors-General of the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, to relevant ministers and government departments throughout the world as well as to major relevant stakeholders from industry, civil society and science and research.

 

Genepool Productions 3-part documentary series ‘Mutant’ will provide the opportunity to connect the discussions taking place in the Australian Citizens Jury and the Global Citizens’ Assembly on Genome Editing to wider public discussions. The documentary will features stories from both deliberative processes.

The global assembly is led by the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra along with a network of international partners.

COVID-19 Safety Measures

The health and safety of all those involved in the 'Australian Citizens' Jury on Genome Editing' is important to us. The event organisers and our partner venue the Museum of Australian Democracy have implemented safety measures in line with recommendations from the Australian Government’s Department of Health and ACT government.

We are committed to ensuring safe physical distancing by using separate entrances and exits where possible, ensuring traffic only moves in one direction within each venue, and limiting the number of people. The Museum of Australian Democracy has increased on-site cleaning to help protect the community.

We ask all those involved to please help us to keep our community safe by:

  • Keeping a 1.5 metre distance helps protect everyone.

  • Remember to wash your hands regularly to protect yourself and others.

  • If you feel unwell, please postpone your visit.

  • Hand sanitiser is available at all venues.

  • Check in to venue using the Check In CBR app.

COVID-19 - CURRENT ALERT (as of 3rd of June)

NSW - NSW Health has identified COVID-19 exposure locations in Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach and Vincentia. If you have been to one of these locations at the times and places listed on the COVID-19 areas of concern page, contact ACT Health on (02) 5124 6209 and immediately quarantine.

Victoria 
- Anyone leaving Victoria after 11:59pm Thursday 27 May and entering the ACT, must stay at home. This requirement has been extended until 11:59pm on Thursday 10 June.

Anyone travelling to the ACT who left Victoria before 11:59pm Thursday 27 May and has been in Greater Melbourne in the last 14 days must complete an online declaration form.

Anyone who has been in Victoria in the last 14 days should keep checking the ACT COVID-19 areas of concern page to check the current list of exposure locations.

Anyone who has been in Whittlesea City in the last 14 days must get tested for COVID-19 and isolate.

To view the full COVID-19 Safety Plan.

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