Viewpoint: Ethical arguments against gene-edited embryos will crumble as technology advances

| | November 20, 2017

[Editor's note: Michael White is a genetics professor at Washington University in St. Louis.]

[S]cientists have developed an easy way to edit the DNA of human embryos. For a long time, such experiments were, as one recent overview put it, "a no-fly zone among molecular biologists," prohibited by scientific societies, university policies, and government regulations.

[W]ithin a few years, gene editing technology will become safe enough for doctors to correct a mutation for cystic fibrosis or Huntington's disease in a human embryo, and from that embryo produce a healthy child who won't have to worry about passing on a devastating disease to her children.

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By that point, advances in the technology will have almost certainly outpaced any ethical debate over how to use it. Questions about what kinds of genetic edits should be allowed, whether it's even right to make a genetically modified child who had no say in the matter, and who gets access to this technology will give in to the relentless pressure of technological progress.

[A]s with genetic engineering, it's become too late to ask whether or not we should edit the human germline; we can now only ask how the experiments will proceed.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: As technology gets better, ethical prohibitions on genetically modifying human embryos are getting weaker

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