I’m writing today because of breaking news that I think you’ll want to know about. An international group of distinguished figures, including some of the scientists credited with discovering CRISPR, has published a commentary in Nature calling for a global moratorium on heritable genome editing.
Altering the genes of future children and generations is currently illegal in more than 30 countries, including much of Europe. While a temporary moratorium falls short of the outcome that CGS and many others believe is needed, the Nature commentary is nonetheless an important and welcome development – particularly in light of last November’s revelation about the scientist who used CRISPR technology to alter the genomes of human embryos that were subsequently brought to term as twin baby girls.
The stated intent of the proposed moratorium, and the effect we hope it will achieve, is to encourage fair, meaningful, broadly inclusive, and unrushed discussions of whether heritable genome editing should be permitted (in countries where it is not already illegal). We are confident that if scientific, social, and ethical concerns are fully aired and honestly weighed, it will become clear that a global agreement to forgo reproductive genome editing is the proper course.
The Center for Genetics and Society will continue working to ensure that the full range of public voices and social concerns is heard in these discussions.
We invite you to read our press statement about the Nature commentary and our editorial response. What do you think about the proposal to hit “pause” on reproductive genome editing? What would you like to see happen next? We want to hear from you.
We also invite you to support the Center for Genetics and Society’s work. We are the only public interest organization in the United States bringing a social justice and human rights perspective to bear on developments in human biotechnology.
Many thanks for your interest and concern,
Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director
Center for Genetics and Society