Viewpoint: ‘Now is the time’ for global laws on human gene editing

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Image credit: Tesla Rati

[T]he bedrock concept underpinning existing international agreements on bioethics and gene editing establishes that we don’t have the right to use technologies to design our descendants according to our preferences, even with the best intentions. Even if gene alterations were initially focused on improving health and preventing the transmission of serious diseases, we simply cannot foresee all of the unintended consequences. Moreover, the risk is too high that we would gradually start to make genetic changes for the non-therapeutic design of our children, and it is far from clear that we should have such power over our descendants.

The fact that a new technique like CRISPR-Cas9 makes it easier and cheaper to “cut and paste” genes does not mean we should analogize this to a technical procedure—à la editing through word processing. It does not change the fundamental ethical and social questions.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Europe missed the GMO revolution. Sensible regulation could ensure they don't miss out on CRISPR gene editing

Considering recent headlines about alleged gene-editing in China, other rogue scientists may try their hands at germline editing sooner or later. That is why it is crucial for national and global laws to be enacted and enforced.

Now is the time to raise consciousness and mobilize awareness among varied constituencies from health, ethics and human rights, among others, about what is at stake in the global struggle for health equity and social justice.

Read full, original post: The right to design babies? Human rights and bioethics

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