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Where to draw the line on human genetic modification

| | August 13, 2014

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

As the genetically modified food wars wage on, another bombshell has been quietly waiting to drop: We could soon start genetically modifying people.

There has been a lot of confusion around this controversial issue, but as we are now facing a historic crossroads, it is important to set the record straight.

Over a decade ago, scientists at St. Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey announced that they had created genetically modified babies with a technique called ooplasmic transfer. They described this as “the first case of human germline modification,” which means that they had changed the genes not only of the immediately resulting children, but also of any children they might have, on through the generations.

Ooplasmic transfer involved injecting part of a fertile woman’s egg “white” into an infertile woman’s egg. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stopped the practice because there was no pre-clinical data about its safety, and because several fetuses created with the technique showed genetic anomalies. The FDA told the researchers that they would need to apply for approval in order to continue, and it seems that none of them ever did.

Read the full, original story: Should we open the door to genetically modified babies?


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