The Breakthrough

UNESCO’s International Bioethic Committee (IBC) has called for a moratorium on all gene-editing procedures that could lead to the tampering of “hereditary traits that could lead to eugenics.” The panel believes that enormous precaution is needed when gene-editing is applied to the human germline, as our decisions today will have far-reaching ramifications for future generations. Applying gene-editing t to preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic conditions that guarantee no modifications to descendants, however, are allowed.

The Implications

The IBC is now calling for a wider debate on the matter, since scientists are making rapid progress using new techniques such as CRISPR and the newer Cpf1. Earlier this year, Chinese scientists announced a world first after using CRISPR to genetically modify human embryos. The response to such research within the community has been generally negative. While scientists believe that these advances have opened the doors for genetic screening and testing for inherited diseases, they argue that these techniques are far from fallible and the long-term side effects are uncertain.

 


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