‘Morally permissible’: Genetically altered babies get nod from UK ethics panel

gene
Image credit: Hannah Gal/SPL)

The creation of babies whose DNA has been altered to give them what parents perceive to be the best chances in life has received a cautious green light in a landmark report from a leading UK ethics body.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said that changing the DNA of a human embryo could be “morally permissible” if it was in the future child’s interests and did not add to the kinds of inequalities that already divide society.

But the report drew immediate criticism from some quarters, with one lobby group accusing the authors of opening the door to the unrestricted use of heritable genetic engineering, and an age of genetic haves and have-nots.

While laws in the UK and some other countries currently ban the creation of genetically altered babies, a handful of experiments around the world have shown that DNA editing could, in principle, prevent children from inheriting serious diseases caused by faulty genes.

Related article:  People may have lived in Australia for 120,000 years—twice as long as we thought

Another consideration is that any changes made to an embryo’s DNA would affect all of its cells, including the sperm or eggs, meaning that genetic modifications would be passed down to all future generations.

In the event that the law is changed, gene editing of human embryos should be considered on a case-by-case basis by the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the report adds.

Read full, original post: Genetically modified babies given go ahead by UK ethics body

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