International Center for Technology Assessment

What’s New:

Request to Finalize the EPA Reporting and Recordkeeping Rule for Nanoscale Materials
December 12, 2016
Letter to encourage OMB to finalize EPA’s Proposed Rule on Nanomaterials Reporting and Recordkeeping.

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Letter to the White House on Human Germline Modification 
November 14, 2016

This letter urges the White House to continue its opposition to the engineering of human genomes. Jaydee Hanson met with White House staff on Dec. 8 and confirmed that the White House intended to retain its position opposing the engineering of human genomes and human gametes.

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Comments on the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology and Developing a Long-Term Strategy for the Regulation of the Products of Biotechnology
November 1, 2016

We find that:

  • All agencies “coordinated” under the coordinated framework need to use the same definitions of biotech.
  • Human genomes should not be “rewritten.”
  • Genetically engineered animals and insects are still not rationally regulated in the draft framework.

See previous comments from 10/2015: Comments to interagency hearing on the “Coordinated Framework.”

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Comments on EPA Draft Guidelines for TSCA Biotechnology Submission on Biotech Algae
October 27, 2016

The risk assessment guidelines need to be modified to make clear that all kinds of genetic engineering should be covered by the guidelines. The guidelines approach this by recognizing that synthetic DNA even if it copies intragenic DNA may not be identical to the original and thus recommends EPA review of the new organism. The White House memorandum on the revisions of the coordinating framework makes clear that it intends agencies to include all genetic engineered products, not just those that are intergeneric.

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Court Documents Reveal Oxitec’s Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Could Cause Increased Numbers of Different Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

September 29, 2016
WASHINGTON— Genetically engineered (GE) mosquito company Oxitec has admitted a major risk of its technology – reducing one mosquito species may increase the numbers of a second disease-carrying species. The information surfaced today when four environment and food safety groups including International Center for Technology Assessment, GeneWatchUK, Food and Water Watch and Friends of the Earth released court documents from the Cayman Islands. Oxitec, a subsidiary of Intrexon, applied for trial releases of its GE mosquito, which, according to the new information, would be inefficient and risky.

Oxitec previously denied that releasing millions of GE Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, with the aim of suppressing wild mosquito numbers, would result in increased numbers of the Aedes albopictus species (known as the Asian Tiger mosquito). The Aedes albopictus also transmits viral tropical diseases such as dengue and zika, and recently has been shown to be a vector of chikungunya, a devastating and sometimes lethal viral disease. The FDA recently approved trial releases of the GE mosquitoes in Florida.

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Comments on “Proposed Changes to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research and the Proposed Scope of an NIH Steering Committee’s Consideration of Certain Human-Animal Chimera Research”
September 6, 2016
The NIH should continue a moratorium on this kind of research. This is precisely the kind of research that raises significant public concerns and warrants an extended discussion of its benefits and risks.
Moreover, the NIH should extend its comment period as this request for comments came out on August 4 during the quietest summer period and today’s deadline, one day after the Labor Day holiday makes it appear that the NIH is trying to limit public comment. I know several religious organizations that have not had time in this last month to have their bioethics committees review this proposal. The absence of outreach to the religious community on this is problematic.

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Congress should prohibit funding for a project to make a synthetic copy of the human genome
June 6, 2016

The International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) believes that genetic engineering of
human embryos or human reproductive cells in a way that allows them to be passed down
through generations should be prohibited. Additionally, ICTA:

  • Calls upon the U.S. Congress to prohibit federal funds from going to such a project.
  • Calls on Congress to extend the recent prohibition on FDA review of engineered human embryos
    for research purposes to all federal funding.
  • Calls on states to prohibit funding of this project.

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Our mission:

The International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) is a non-profit, bi-partisan organization committed to providing the public with full assessments and analyses of technological impacts on society. Recent history is filled with profound technological changes and scientific discoveries–in such fields as telecommunications, nuclear power and weaponry, computers, pesticides, car and air travel, modern medicine, genetic engineering–that have permanently altered our communities, countries and ecosystems. These innovations demonstrate that technology is among the most powerful, and often destructive, agents of social change in modern times. CTA was formed to assist the general public and policymakers better understand how technology affects society.

CTA is devoted to exploring the economic, ethical, social, environmental and political impacts that can result from the applications of technology or technological systems. Using this holistic form of analysis, CTA provides the public with independent, timely, and comprehensive information about the potential impacts of technology. Equally as important, CTA is the country’s primary legal organization fighting megatechnologies and technocracies. Using legal petitions, comments, and litigation CTA is at the forefront of the battles to limit genetic engineering, end the patenting of life, address greenhouse gas emissions, protect animals from abuse in research and agriculture, and halt deforestation.