Viewpoint: In 100 years, we’ll be honoring controversial CRISPR scientist He Jiankui

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Image: AP

When I saw the news that He Jiankui and colleagues had been sentenced to three years in prison for the first human embryo gene editing and implantation experiments, all I could think was, “How will we look back at what they had done in 100 years?”

I imagine that the scientists, medical doctors, and biotechnologists reading this essay will almost unanimously proclaim that He Jiankui will never be viewed in a positive way. What they fail to see is that societal ethics change, especially over long time frames.

In the next 100 years, thousands of edited embryos will be implanted and become children. I believe that embryo editing and implantation will someday be viewed much as how IVF is viewed today. When a human embryo being edited and implanted is no longer interesting enough for a news story, will we still view He Jiankui as a villain?

Related article:  Learning about modern genetics through the long-extinct aurochs

I don’t think we will. But even if we do, He Jiankui will be remembered and talked about more than any scientist of our day. Although that may seriously aggravate many scientists and bioethicists, I think he deserves that honor.

Read full, original post: CRISPR babies scientist He Jiankui should not be villainized — or headed to prison

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