Ethics and the controversial decision to make gene-edited babies

He
He Jiankui of China.

For someone who has caused a worldwide uproar over what many fellow scientists consider an ethical outrage, He Jiankui of China spent a remarkable amount of time discussing his work — which he claims led to the births of the first babies whose genomes had been edited when they were IVF embryos — with bioethicists, policy experts, and social scientists.

Two of them are father and son: Dr. William Hurlbut of Stanford University, a member of the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics in the early 2000s, and J. Benjamin Hurlbut of Arizona State University, a biomedical historian. The Hurlbuts have discussed the ethics of human genome editing with He more than any other scholars in the West and probably the world.

Related article:  Personalizing pancreatic cancer treatment by growing, treating tumors in a dish

Though neither Hurlbut supports what He has done, both came away from these conversations with an impression of He as a well-meaning and thoughtful scientist — and, as the younger Hurlbut put it, not a “rogue.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He asked Hurlbut whether opponents of such research in the U.S. were members of fringe groups, or reflected a majority view. “He wanted to understand what that was about,” Hurlbut said.

“I knew where he was heading and tried to give him a sense of the practical and ethical implications,” Hurlbut said. “But he kept returning to the good that could be done.”

Read full, original post: He took a crash course in bioethics. Then he created CRISPR babies

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis ...
seralinistud

Gilles-Éric Séralini: Activist professor and face of anti-GMO industry

The French biologist and his research team--funded by the Rodale ...
vandana shiva

Vandana Shiva: ‘Rock Star’ of GMO protest movement has anti-science history

In a 2012 interview, Bill Moyers referred to Vandana Shiva as ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend