First gene-edited babies spark global outrage
Published: December 6, 2018
Category: Extreme Genetic Engineering, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Chinese scientist claims he altered embryos using CRISPR technology
The announcement of the birth of twin girls whose DNA was modified by Chinese scientist He Jiankui—disabling a gene to block development of HIV—came right before the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong,
Scientists and ethicists at the conference grilled He on what he claims to have done, angry at the dangerous experiment that violates current policy and scientific consensus—and his flagrant lack of protocols in publishing it. When He’s university in Shenzhen rejected the proposal, he found a private hospital that participated. Gene-editing technology adds, deletes, or alters specific genes; when done for reproduction, those changes appear in every cell and in all following generations.
“We strongly condemn the stunt that threatens [the babies’] safety, and puts the rest of us at risk,” said Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society.
“Of course it’s not ethical,” said Qiu Renzong, bioethicist at the Chinese Academy of Social Science. China’s National Health Commission is investigating the incident.
Scientists say it was only a matter of time before CRISPR was applied it to the human genome. Katie Hasson of Center for Genetics and Society said the “scientific grandstanding” should not have sidestepped the urgent ethical deliberation the issue requires.
“In a time of resurgent racism and socio-economic disparity, the last thing we need is [genetic enhancements so some] consider themselves biologically superior to others,” Darnovsky added.
Sources: Sustainable Pulse; The Guardian; USA Today
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