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Good morning, this is Michelle and today we’re bringing you exclusive details of a Taliban delegation visiting Geneva this week to hold talks with humanitarian NGOs as the crisis in Afghanistan deepens.

We also hear that plastic pollution is having an impact on the majority of marine species and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has warned that the dissolution of a high court in Tunisia threatens the rule of law.

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Michelle Langrand


On our radar

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A military position on a hilltop in Kabul, Afghanistan, 7 October 7, 2021. (Credit: Keystone/REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

🤝 Taliban in town on humanitarian business. A Taliban delegation landed in Geneva on Sunday to meet with organisations and will be staying for a few days to discuss the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, as first reported by Geneva Solutions. Alain Délétroz, director general of Geneva Call, which organised the visit, told us that the purpose was “to ensure that the basic humanitarian norms are not only being respected in public speeches, but implemented on the ground”.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here's what else is happening

Science and diplomacy reads by GESDA

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A marsh mosquito biting. (Credit: João P. Burini/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

🧬 Evolution is an incremental process. That’s what Charles Darwin thought and wrote in his On the Origin of Species in 1859. But things might be more complex, and not so incremental, because of us, humans – as an article in WIRED tells (see below). In a nutshell, thanks to a deep dive into genetic databases, scientists can show retrospectively how often and fast, through interventions that are not always desired, humans have taken a hand on evolution.

And the best example is maybe to come, with a technology called “gene-drive”. The idea is to impose a gene with a certain function to some living organisms, and to ensure that this genetic modification will be passed onto future generations. For example, malaria-transmitting mosquitoes that have become resistant to pesticides could be inserted with a gene that overrides this resistance, so that chemical sprays are efficient again. This experiment, described by WIRED, would be the first to demonstrate the gene-drive method (done in this case with genetic scissors called CRISPR). “This technology overrules the laws of heredity to spread a trait through a population more quickly than it would happen naturally, forcing that gene into a population’s offspring,” the article sums up. And it could be applied to many other situations in the natural environment.

Before any first experiment is made – and no need to dive here in the genetic databases, as the impact on evolution would be known prospectively – , some concerned ethicists have developed a “code of ethics for gene drive research with the hope that this code will encourage the development of an international framework that includes ethical guidance of gene drive research and is incorporated into scientific practice by gaining broad agreement and adherence”.

We can bet Darwin would have agreed. Let’s hope that all scientists and decision-makers, possibly eager to solve environmental problems through gene-drive experiments, will have a look and discuss it too.

Olivier Dessibourg, GESDA

New database reveals how much humans are messing with evolution. Some animals and plants are rapidly adapting to our warming, polluted world. How alarming that is depends on your perspective.


The ‘next frontier’ for pioneering cancer therapies. Cancer treatments that modify a patient's immune cells to attack cancer cells are being re-engineered to try to treat more cancers in more people.


DeepMind created a new AI coding engine. And they say it is as good as an average human programmer.

The Verge (EN)

Covid’s lesson for governments? Don’t cherry-pick advice, synthesise it.

Nature (EN)

What’s so hard about understanding consciousness? Neuroscientists Antonio Damasio and Anil Seth share their insights.

Nautilus (EN)

Can tree diversity help the climate? How a greater richness of species can help store more carbon.

NewScientist (EN)

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This selection is proposed by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator GESDA, working on anticipating cutting-edge science and technological advances to develop innovative and inclusive solutions for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants.

GS news is a new media project covering the world of international cooperation and development. Don’t hesitate to forward our newsletter!

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