The future of genetically modified babies may lie in the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg reported over the weekend.
Secret summit: According to Bloomberg, top Russian geneticists held a “secret meeting” this summer with government health officials in Moscow to debate a bid by a scientist there, Denis Rebrikov, to create babies genetically modified with the gene-editing technology CRISPR.
The first such children were born in China last year as part of a project to make HIV-resistant humans. That undertaking was halted amid pointed criticism of its ethical failings and a criminal investigation.
Putin’s choice: The question now is whether Russia will grab the CRISPR baton where China dropped it. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russia’s leader, declined to give Bloomberg a position, saying gene editing is not “a presidential issue.”
Putin has already made some comments about gene editing, likening the technology to a nuclear bomb and citing the possibility of creating soldiers who feel no pain. According to Bloomberg, Putin last year directed $2 billion to be spent on genetic research that he said will “determine the future of the whole world.”
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