Human germline gene editing too complex for black-and-white moral framing

The first day of BEINGS2015, “A Gathering of Global Thought Leaders to Reach Consensus on the Direction of Biotechnology for the 21st Century”, in Atlanta, coincided with the announcement by the National Academy of Science and National Academy of Medicine of an initiative to look into “promising new treatments for disease,” given that “recent experiments to attempt to edit human genes also have raised important questions about the potential risks and ethical concerns of altering the human germline.”

As a division in the room. The National Academies framing morally centered “promising new treatments for disease” and pitted “risks and ethical concerns” against those potential treatments. This framing was echoed in some participants’ comments and questions. On the other hand, there were others in the room, ourselves included, who argue in our work that “promising new treatments for disease” should not be pre-emptively morally centered, as to do so leaves out too many of the ethical issues at stake. As we pursue promising treatments, we should also be asking what we are trying to treat; whether it is best treated biomedically; who is included as funders, patients, donors, and scientists; who is left out; who profits; and whether or not the treatment masks, depoliticizes, or exacerbates political and social inequality.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Innovation and equity in an age of ene editing

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