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Showing posts from December 9, 2015

ETHICS : Where to Draw the Line on Gene-Editing Technology

New techniques that could make germ-line genetic engineering unprecedentedly easy are forcing policy makers to confront the ethical implications of moving forward

By Jonathan D. Moreno on November 30, 2015


The biologists have done it again. Not so long ago it was cloning and embryonic stem cells that challenged moral imagination. These days all eyes are on a powerful new technique for engineering or “editing” DNA. 

Relatively easy to learn and to use, CRISPR has forced scientists, ethicists and policymakers to reconsider one of the few seeming red lines in experimental biology: the difference between genetically modifying an individual’s somatic cells and engineering the germline that will be transmitted to future generations. Instead of genetic engineering for one person why not eliminate that disease trait from all of her or his descendants?

This week, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the U.K. Royal Society are trying to find ways to…