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An international summit on human gene editing drew hundreds of people to Washington, D.C., for three days, with many more joining online. The meeting, which wrapped up on Thursday, was convened by the scientific academies of the United States, the United Kingdom, and China. Its central issue: whether or not powerful new molecular engineering techniques should be used to create genetically modified children.
The summit was not designed to produce consensus among the participants, a mix of scientists, academics, ethicists and others, but its organizing committee released a statement at the end of the deliberations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its conclusion was inconclusive.
Typically, discussions of new biomedical technologies that are organized by scientists focus on technical questions about safety and effectiveness. But when the matter at hand is a technology that may literally reshape human beings and human society, ethical and social considerations cannot be ignored. The organizers of the just-concluded summit made a real effort to include speakers, including myself, whose expertise lies in social, policy, or ethical arenas.
Unfortunately, many perspectives from outside the scientific community were not fully represented, especially those from the public interest sector. We did not hear, for example, from advocates for disability rights, racial justice, reproductive rights and justice, the LGBTQ community, environmental protection, labor, or children’s welfare. Also missing were religious and artistic voices.
Read full, original post: Human gene editing is a social and political matter, not just a scientific one