12 Dec
Stopping Gene-Edited Babies Stopping Gene-Edited Babies

Stopping Gene-Edited Babies

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Now that a Chinese researcher has announced that he has found a way to create gene-edited babies, bioethicists are expressing concerns about how the news represents one more sign that gene-editing technology is moving along more quickly than it should be.

Here's why: There's currently no law that would stand in the way of gene editing either in the United States or any other country.

The Verge reports that it isn't yet apparent whether researcher He Jiankui implemented a gene-editing tool known as CRISPR cas-9 to improve the capacity of twin females to protect against HIV. But that hasn't stopped bioethicists from speaking up.

“There was inadequate regulation and no serious oversight,” Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University, said. “It’s ethically Swiss cheese, more holes than substance.”

What's especially noteworthy, he added, is that the editing in this case wasn't done to remedy a mutated gene but instead to improve a power.

“That’s taking a step down the road of eugenics,” Caplan argued. “For one of the most important experiments you could do in the history of eugenics, we’re stepping off the ethical cliff with no ropes or safeguards or protections.”

As a result, he continued, the Chinese government will now be compelled to shed needed light on its policy concerning embryos and genetic editing.

Far as the U.S. is concerned, Congress currently forbids federal money from being used for research into the genetic engineering of embryos.

However, the practice of editing embryos is not in itself outlawed.

“This shows the need for regulators to start rethinking approaches and how to develop more guidelines, both on a domestic and international level,” said Georgetown Law School professor Naomi Cahn.

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Read 3093 times Last modified on Wednesday, 05 December 2018 10:13
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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