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About Human Germline Gene Editing

by Center for Genetics and Society

Untitled Document

"Human germline modification" means deliberately changing the genes passed on to children and future generations – in other words, creating genetically modified people. Human germline modification has for many years been widely considered off-limits, for both safety and social reasons. It is formally prohibited in more than 40 countries.

In recent years, a new generation of genetic engineering techniques, known as "gene editing" or "genome editing," has prompted speculation about their use in human embryos or gametes. In 2014, rumors intensified about researchers in the US and China working on human embryos with the inexpensive, easy-to-use gene-editing tool CRISPR. In April 2015, a research team at Sun Yat-sen University in China published a report of an experiment in which they used CRISPR to edit a gene associated with the blood disease beta- thalassemia in non-viable human embryos.

The experiments were largely unsuccessful. But as gene editing tools are refined in labs around the world, they are expected to allow easier, cheaper, and more accurate insertion or deletion of genes than ever before.

This controversy marks a new chapter of a profoundly consequential debate about the future of gene editing in humans. If perfected, somatic gene editing (or "gene therapy") holds promise for helping people who are sick, affecting only an individual consenting patient.

But editing the genes of human embryos in order to create genetically modified people is very different, and raises grave safety, social, and ethical concerns. These range from the prospect of irreversible harms to the health of future children and generations, to concerns about opening the door to new forms of social inequality, discrimination, and conflict.

For more, see Genetically Modified Humans? Seven Reasons to Say "No" and Human Gene Editing Frequently Asked Questions by the Center for Genetics and Society.

Contents

  1. Major Events in 2015
  2. Policy and Regulation
  3. Technology
  4. Key Articles & Position Statements
  5. Biopolitical Times Blog Posts
  6. Center for Genetics and Society Press Releases

Major Events in 2015

  1. Statements by university-based and industry-based researchers and bioethicists in Nature (March 12, 2015) and Science (April 3, 2015) warn of rumored human germline modification and make recommendations about how to respond, proposing different kinds of moratoria.

  2. Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University report editing the genomes of human embryos in the online journal Protein & Cell (April 18, 2015).

  3. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, releases Statement on NIH funding of research using gene-editing technologies in human embryos (April 29, 2015).

  4. National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine Announce Initiative on Human Gene Editing (May 18, 2015). [Initiative homepage]

  5. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issues A Note on Genome Editing (May 26, 2015).

  6. U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Research and Technology holds first congressional hearing on genetically engineered human DNA (June 16, 2015).

  7. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences and Medicine announce two international co-hosts for the International Summit on Human Gene Editing in Washington D.C. on December 1-3: The Royal Society  (UK) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (September 14, 2015).

  8. A team of researchers affiliated with the Francis Crick Institute (London) apply to the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embyrology Authority for a license to begin genome editing research in human embryos (September 17, 2015).

  9. The International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO updated their Report on the Human Genome recommending a "moratorium on genome editing of the human germline" (October 2, 2015).
  10. Top of page

Policy and Regulation

  1. Summary: Human Germline Modification National and International Policies
    UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the European Union consider germline modification as constituting unethical human experimentation and abuse of human rights. More than 40 countries, not including the United States, prohibit germline modification by law. In the U.S., proposals for clinical trials including human germline engineering will not be accepted at this time by the NIH, and federal legislation prevents government funding of research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos.

  2. Inheritable Genetic Modification Policies, BioPolicy Wiki, Center for Genetics and Society
    This compendium of country-level policies includes summaries of and links to legislation addressing human germline modification.

  3. International Regulatory Landscape and Integration of Corrective Genome Editing into In Vitro Fertilization, Motoko Araki and Tetsuya Ishii, Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology (November 24, 2014)
    This article surveys the status of genome editing and its integration with IVF, and  addresses some ethical and social issues that would be raised when jurisdictions consider whether genome editing-mediated germline gene correction for preventive medicine should be permitted.

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What is Genome Editing?

Genome editing involves inserting, replacing or removing DNA from a genome. These techniques use biologically engineered nucleases that function as "molecular scissors" that can cut the DNA at specified locations in the genome. Several genome-editing techniques have been developed in recent years, beginning with ZFNs (zinc-finger nucleases) and TALENs (transcription activator-like effector nucleases). A significantly less expensive and easier to use technique known as CRISPR was first widely noted in 2012.

What is CRISPR/Cas9? 

CRISPR/Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is the newest, simplest and least expensive genome-editing tool. CRISPR was first identified in bacteria, where it functions as a defense against foreign DNA, either viral or plasmid. Cas9 is an associated protein. The CRISPR/Cas9 system relies on RNA-DNA base pairing to identify the targeted location in a genome, to produce a double-strand break in the existing DNA to disable the targeted gene, and to potentially insert new sequences at the point of the double-strand break.

Explanations of CRISPR

What are ZFNs and TALENs?

ZFNs (Zinc-Finger Nucleases) and TALENs (Transcription Activator- Like Effector Nucleases) are other slightly older but still powerful gene-editing tools. They are composed of programmable, DNA-binding modules that enable a broad range of genetic modifications by inducing DNA double-strand breaks at specific genomic locations. In other words, they allow researchers to "cut out" specific genes, repair a mutation, or incorporate a new stretch of DNA into a selected location.

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Key Articles & Position Statements

  1. We Can Design Our Descendants. But Should We?, Margaret Somerville, The Globe and Mail [Canada] (December 21st, 2015)
    Ethically, we must place the future child at the centre of the decision-making. We must also protect society.

  2. Gene Editing: Hope, Hype, and Caution, Daniel Callahan, The Hastings Center Bioethics Forum (December 8th, 2015)
    In the debate on germline gene editing, speculative harms are treated as fear mongering while speculative benefits are allowed to run wild.

  3. Future proofing, Editorial Board, Nature (December 8th, 2015)
    Global discussions on human gene editing and climate change should not sidestep hard decisions on issues that will affect future generations.

  4. About Us, Without Us: Inclusion in the Threat of Eradication, Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Impact Ethics (December 8th, 2015)
    Disability rights advocates are still excluded from conversations (such as the International Summit on Human Gene Editing) that involve the survival of our communities.

  5. Should We Genetically Modify Our Children?, Jessica Cussins, Kennedy School Review (December 7th, 2015)
    We need the wisdom of historical, global, and social perspectives to help shape a world that is not merely concerned with what is possible, but also with what is beneficial.

  6. The Human Germline Genome Editing Debate, Charis Thompson, Impact Ethics (December 4th, 2015)
    The range of views expressed at the International Summit on Human Gene Editing underscores the need for broader and more inclusive public discussion.

  7. Scientists urge caution on human gene editing [cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky], Al Jazeera America (December 4th, 2015)
    Ethical questions triggered three days of debate among the scientists, policymakers and ethicists from 20 countries at the Washington, DC summit.

  8. Human gene editing is a social and political matter, not just a scientific one, Marcy Darnovsky, The Guardian (December 4th, 2015)
    The organizing committee kicked the can down the road, leaving the door open for gene editing for human reproduction.

  9. The major concern about a powerful new gene-editing technique that most people don't want to talk about, Tanya Lewis, Business Insider (December 2nd, 2015)
    There's a dark side to manipulating our genetics that few want to discuss: Eugenics, the racist practice of trying to "improve" the human race by controlling genetics and reproduction.

  10. Genetically engineered children?, Marcy Darnovsky, The Hill (December 1st, 2015)
    The powerful new gene editing tools now under consideration in D.C. could be used for scientific and medical breakthroughs, or misused to undermine human rights and human equality.

  11. US scientists urge ban on human genetic modification [cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks], Ryan Rifai, Al Jazeera (November 30th, 2015)
    A new report and sign-on statement argue that genetic modification of children and future generations could have irreversible effects on humanity.

  12. We Need a Moratorium on Genetically Modifying Humans, Paul Knoepfler, Slate (November 30th, 2015)
    The technology for potentially creating designer babies has progressed much faster than the deliberation of societal implications and permissible uses.

  13. Gene Manipulation In Human Embryos Provokes Ethical Questions, Rahel Gebreyes, HuffPost Live (November 17th, 2015)
    CGS's Marcy Darnovsky discusses the social implications of leveraging CRISPR gene editing tools to pursue enhanced children with Josh Zepps, Peter Singer, Michelle McGowan, Paul Knoepfler, and Antonio Regalado.

  14. Better Babies, Nathaniel Comfort, Aeon (November 17th, 2015)
    The long and peculiar history of the designer human, from Plato’s citizen breeders to Nobel sperm banks, and the latest iteration of human genetic perfectability: CRISPR gene editing.

  15. Everything you need to know about why CRISPR is such a hot technology, Dominic Basulto, The Washington Post (November 4, 2015) [quoting CGS]
    Venture capital is responding to the hype surrounding new genetic engineering tools, but many are concerned by the controversial proposition of genetically modifying new humans.

  16. Would you edit your unborn child's genes so they were successful?, Mairi Levitt, The Guardian (November 3, 2015)
    New technology could bring about the much debated designer baby, but a parent’s desire to do the best for their child could create sociological problems.

  17. Human Gene Editing Frequently Asked Questions, Center for Genetics and Society (October 29, 2015)
    Should we as a society condone the genetic modification of future human beings? Here we take on some common questions about gene editing the human germline.

  18. NAS Human Gene Editing Meeting: Agenda & Public Participation, Paul Knoepfler, The Niche (October 26th, 2015)
    The National Academies have released a draft agenda for the upcoming summit on human gene editing.

  19. After Asilomar, Editorial, Nature News (October 14th, 2015)
    Scientist-led conferences are no longer the best way to resolve debates on controversial research, and scientists who wish to self-regulate ignore public outcry at their peril.

  20. Where in the world could the first CRISPR baby be born?, Heidi Ledford, Nature News (October 13th, 2015)
    Nature surveys the legal landscape of 12 countries with well-funded biological research and finds variety of bans on human genome editing in research or reproduction.

  21. UNESCO Calls for More Regulations on Genome Editing, DTC Genetic Testing, Staff, GenomeWeb (October 6, 2015)
    The organization's International Bioethics Committee released a report recommending a moratorium on genome editing the human germline.

  22. List of Speakers for NAS Meeting on Human Gene Editing, Paul Knoepfler, Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog (October 1, 2015)
    A preliminary list of speakers for the National Academies' international summit on human gene editing has emerged, with troubling lack of diversity.

  23. Scientists Find Gene Editing with CRISPR Hard to Resist, Cameron Scott, Healthline (September 29, 2015) [quoting Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks]
    CRISPR, a new technique for editing DNA, is considered so inexpensive and relatively easy to use, we may be genetically engineering human embryos before we have time to decide if we should.

  24. Limits of Responsibility: Genome Editing, Asilomar, and the Politics of Deliberation,  J. Benjamin Hurlbut, Hastings Center Report (September 28, 2015)
    What justifies the notion that CRISPR has caught us off guard or that it is appropriate for experts to retreat into secluded spaces to define the parameters of public debate?

  25. CRISPR Democracy: Gene Editing and the Need for Inclusive Deliberation, J. Benjamin Hurlbut, Krishanu Saha, Sheila Jasanoff, Issues (September 21, 2015)
    CRISPR raises basic questions about the rightful place of science in governing the future in democratic societies; benevolent references to Asilomar as a model for public risk assessment obscure the role that science plays in shaping public understanding of risky behavior.

  26. British scientists seek to edit the genes of embryos; bioethicists warn of potential dangers, Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post (September 18, 2015) [quoting Marcy Darnovsky]
    A "troubling and provocative move," the Francis Crick Institute applies to HFEA to proceed with CRISPR research in human germ cells, short-circuiting nascent international conversation.

  27. [UK] Statement on Genome Editing Technologies and Human Germline Genetic Modification [pdf], Hinxton Group (September 9, 2015)
    An international consortium on stem cells, ethics and law propose a roadmap to guide the development of safety and efficacy standards necessary to pursue future "human reproductive applications," and argue the potential need for "embyros created specifically for research".

  28. [UK] Initial joint statement on genome editing in human cells [pdf], Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Association of Medical Research Charities, Bioscience for the Future, and Academy of Medical Sciences (September 2, 2015)
    UK medical research funders claim "human genome-editing research should proceed" and push for ethical discussion to explore clinical applications of CRISPR/Cas-9 gene editing research in human germ cells.

  29. CRISPR: The Latest Biotech Hype, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Boston Review (August 24th, 2015)
    What began with an attempt to build a better yogurt now has journalists speculating about Brave New World scenarios, but the bio-hype relies on a false model of genetic determinism.

  30. Genome Editing: The Age of the Red Pen, The Economist (August 22nd, 2015) [References CGS]
    Because it is so simple and easy to use, CRISPR has generated huge excitement in the worlds of molecular biology, medical research, commercial biotechnology.

  31. Conversation with Kelly Hills: Human Genetic Modification & Bioethics, Paul Knoepfler, Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog
    (August 20th, 2015)
    An interview with bioethics commentator Kelly Hills tackles some of the key issues surrounding the potential use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology to make heritable genetic modifications in humans.

  32. It's Time for an Uncomfortable Discussion about What it Really Means to Engineer a 'Better Baby', Kevin Loria, Business Insider Australia (August 13th, 2015)
    “Humans have more flaws than we know what to do with ... One of them is that we don’t know what it would mean to make a better baby.” [quoting George Annas]

  33. CRISPR Race Heats Up As Gates, Crossovers Put $120M Into Editas, Ben Fidler, Xconomy (August 10th, 2015)
    Some of the biggest names from Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and elsewhere are handing the largest round of funding yet to a CRISPR-Cas9 startup.

  34. The Power to Remake a Species, Rebecca Boyle, Future of Life Institute (July 23rd, 2015)
    CRISPR could be used with synthetic biology tool "gene drive" to eliminate malaria-carrying mosquitoes, what are the limits on this research? Marcy Darnovsky, Center for Genetics and Society calls for "robust public participation on the use of these very powerful technologies".

  35. Can We Cure Genetic Diseases Without Slipping Into Eugenics?, Nathaniel Comfort, Nation (July 16, 2015)
    CRISPR gene editing could correct genetic mutations for serious illnesses. Will it also create a new eugenics of personal choice? A rich historical examination of eugenics in the United States and the social and political context of this ground-breaking biotechnology.

  36. Last Scientist in Congress has Human Genetic Engineering Warning, Bill Foster, The Hill (July 8th, 2015)
    "We are on the verge of a technological breakthrough that could change the future of humankind; we must not blindly charge ahead."

  37. CRISPR: Move Beyond Differences, Charis Thompson, Nature (June 24, 2015)
    When scientific developments throw up difficult choices, scientists, social scientists and others need to stop positioning other people as being for or against science, or for or against ethics. The National Academy should establish working groups to study and document at regular intervals the wide range of phenomena that will shape and be shaped by gene-editing research – from scientific breakthroughs to health disparities and disability justice.

  38. CRISPR: Science Can't Solve It, Daniel Sarewitz, Nature (June 23, 2015)
    The idea that the risks, benefits and ethical challenges of these emerging technologies are something to be decided by experts is wrong- headed, futile and self-defeating. It misunderstands the role of science in public discussions about technological risk. It seriously underestimates the democratic sources of science's vitality and the capacities of democratic deliberation. And it will further delegitimize and politicize science in modern societies.

  39. Germline Genome-Editing Research and Its Socioethical Implications, Tetsuya Ishii, Trends in Molecular Medicine (June 12, 2015)
    Gene modification has raised tremendous debate in the context of medical beneficence, safety, human dignity, and risk of abuse for eugenics or enhancement. Discussion of moratoria and relevant legislation. Public dialogue is crucial to shape social attitudes towards germline editing.

  40. Brave New Genome, Eric S. Lander, New England Journal of Medicine (June 3, 2015)
    It has been only about a decade since we first read the human genome. We should exercise great caution before we begin to rewrite it.

  41. CRISPR, the Disruptor, Heidi Ledford, Nature News (June 3, 2015)
    A powerful gene-editing technology is the biggest game changer to hit biology since PCR. But with its huge potential come pressing concerns. (Includes multiple infographics and visual timelines.)

  42. Position Statement on Genomic Editing in Human Embryos [pdf], Society for Developmental Biology (April 24, 2015)
    SDB supports a voluntary moratorium by members of the scientific community on all manipulation of pre-implantation human embryos by genome editing. Such studies raise deep ethical concerns on their and could lead to unanticipated consequences if embryos were then brought to term.

  43. Genetically Modified Humans? Seven Reasons to Say "No," Center for Genetics and Society (May, 2015)
    Crossing the threshold into heritable human genetic alterations has long been considered dangerously unacceptable for both safety and social reasons.

  44. The Lessons of Asilomar for Today's Science, Alexander Capron, The New York Times (May 28, 2015)
    Attempts to use new gene editing techniques to "improve" our descendants raises profound ethical and social issues, and a group dominated by scientists is too self-interested and unrepresentative to take them on.

  45. Let’s talk about the ethics of germline modification, Gregor Wolbring, Impact Ethics (May 27, 2015)
    We need clarity about where the public discussion should take place, what exactly it should focus on, and who should participate.

  46. A Note on Genome Editing, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (May 26, 2015)
    The Obama Administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time.

  47. Eugenics Lurk in the Shadow of CRISPR, Robert Pollack, Science (May 22, 2015)
    This opening to germline modification is, simply put, the opening of a return to the agenda of eugenics: the positive selection of "good" versions of the human genome and the weeding out of "bad" versions.

  48. National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine Announce Initiative on Human Gene Editing, Ralph J. Cicerone and Victor J. Dzau (May 18, 2015)

  49. Splice of Life, Nature editorial (May 6, 2015)
    Now is a good time for a public debate about human germline editing. Voices from civil society outside the closeted worlds of science, bioethics and regulation be heard, and their viewpoints must help to set the terms of the debate.

  50. Statement on NIH Funding of Research Using Gene-Editing Technologies in Human Embryos, Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (April 29, 2015)
    There are "serious and unquantifiable safety issues, ethical issues presented by altering the germline in a way that affects the next generation without their consent, and a current lack of compelling medical applications justifying the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in embryos."

  51. Editing Human Embryos: So This Happened, Carl Zimmer, National Geographic (April 22, 2015)
    A quick guide to the history behind gene editing, what the Chinese scientists did, and what it may signify.

  52. Human Genetic Engineering Demands More Than a Moratorium, Sheila Jasanoff, J. Benjamin Hurlbut and Krishanu Saha, The Guardian (April 7, 2015)
    Expert calls for a moratorium on germline gene engineering are not a substitute for richer public debate on the ethics and politics of our biotechnological futures.

  53. A Prudent Path Forward for Genomic Engineering and Germline Gene Modification, David Baltimore et. al., Science (April 3, 2015)
    Recommendations include discouraging "clinical applications in humans" of germline gene editing "while societal, environmental, and ethical implications of such activity are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations" and encouraging "research to evaluate the efficacy and specificity of CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology in human and nonhuman model systems relevant to its potential applications for germline gene therapy."

  54. Who's Getting Rich Off Your Genes?, Patricia J. Williams, The Nation (April 3, 2015)
    The post-war aversion to eugenics — the understanding that despite great variability from one human to another, no one life is worth more than another — has eroded.

  55. Human Germline Genetic Modification, Lisa Ikemoto and Paul Knoepfler, Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog (March 23, 2015)
    "The call for a moratorium" is "a game changer" that creates an opportunity for research transparency and open exchange between the scientific community and the lay public" to discuss our "long, bad history of mis-using human genetic selection" and how germline engineering "can, and probably will, expand the list of conditions and traits considered undesirable."

  56. Don't Edit the Human Germ Line, Edward Lanphier, Fyodor Urnov, Sarah Ehlen Haecker, Michael Werner & Joanna Smolenski, Nature (March 12, 2015)
    Heritable human genetic modifications pose serious risks, and the therapeutic benefits are tenuous.

  57. Engineering the Perfect Baby, Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review (March 5th, 2015)
    Scientists are developing ways to edit the DNA of tomorrow’s children. Should they stop before it’s too late?

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Biopolitical Times Blog Posts

  1. Weak Arguments For Modifying the Human Germline, by Pete Shanks on December 10th, 2015
    At the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, philosopher John Harris engaged in tired and absurd attempts to justify engineering future humans.

  2. Livetweeting #GeneEditSummit: Democratized Debate or Segregated Conversations?, by Elliot Hosman on December 10th, 2015
    Though #GeneEditSummit was trending on Twitter, inclusive public debate must be more robust than the livetweeting of insular stakeholder meetings.

  3. Stem Cell Researcher to Reddit: "Ask Me Anything" on Human Genetic Modification, by Elliot Hosman on December 10th, 2015
    UC Davis researcher Paul Knoepfler fielded 100s of questions on the social and technical implications of genetically modifying human cells.

  4. CRISPR Gene Editing: Proofreaders and Undo Buttons, but Ever "Safe" Enough?, by Elliot Hosman on November 19, 2015
    Recent research suggests that CRISPR gene editing has putative spellcheck and undo functions, but a number of stakeholders are cautious about a future filled with GM humans.

  5. Gene Therapy: Comeback? Cost-Prohibitive?, by Elliot Hosman on November 19, 2015
    Recent CRISPR news sometimes confuses germline modification - which should be put off limits - and gene therapy, which presents its own set of social and ethical risks to resolve before rushing to market.

  6. Gene Editing and Eugenics (Opinions Vary), by Pete Shanks on October 29th, 2015
    A recent commentary on the UK law allowing clinical use of mitochondrial replacement celebrates it as a benign form of eugenics. Is there such a thing?

  7. The CRISPR Germline Debate: Closed to the Public?, by Elliot Hosman on October 15, 2015
    Recent CRISPR media coverage focuses on hype rather than engaging the ethical and social implications of the groundbreaking technology—even as many call for the public's inclusion in the genome editing debate.

  8. CRISPR-Cpf1: Hype by Association, by Elliot Hosman on October 2, 2015
    Amid Nobel Prize predictions for CRISPR-Cas9 research, a new CRISPR associated protein takes the media and science community by storm, even as its utility remains unclear.

  9. Considering CRISPR: Putting a thumb on the scale?, by Pete Shanks on September 24, 2015
    The National Academies have announced the date for their International Summit on Human Gene Editing. Are some of the organizers trying to predetermine the outcome?

  10. Fast Forward-Pause-Stop: The 3-Speed Human Germline Debate, by Lisa C. Ikemoto (guest contributor) on September 10, 2015
    CRISPR’s rapid uptake has spurred proposals from moratoria to get-out-of-the-way optimism, but ad hoc responses aren’t enough when there is so much at stake.

  11. Pinker's Damn: A Naive Rejection of Controls Over Genetic Engineering, by Stuart Newman (guest contributor) on September 4, 2015
    Steven Pinker's credulous optimism concerning human germline modification ignores a record of complicity by some scientists, and appropriation of the work of others, in abuses by industry and government.

  12. The Rhetorical Two-Step: Steven Pinker, CRISPR, and Disability, by George Estreich (guest contributor) on September 4, 2015
    Steven Pinker’s invitation for bioethics to “get out of the way” of the CRISPR revolution typifies a rhetorical pattern: uncritical support for human-focused biotech is paired with a negative view of disability.

  13. Putting Ourselves in Harm's Way: Thoughts on Pinker and the Role of Bioethics, by Nathaniel Comfort (guest contributor) on August 12, 2015
    Confronting Steven Pinker and the legacy of biomedicine, ethicists and historians need to "get in harm's way to spare harm to others."

  14. The Facts Behind #CRISPRfacts and the Hype Behind CRISPR, posted by Jonathan Chernoguz on July 28, 2015
    WIRED's hyped magazine cover story on CRISPR entitled "The Genesis Engine" triggers a wave of tweets and criticism.

  15. Talking About the Germline, posted by Pete Shanks on July 8, 2015
    The debate about heritable human genetic modification continues, with opinions ranging from enthusiasm to dismay, and strong arguments for political as well as scientific involvement.

  16. Tired Tropes and New Twists in the Debate about Human Germline Modification, by Marcy Darnovsky on May 28, 2015
    Techno-enthusiasts now argue that as we think about the human future, we should rule out considering what we might learn from works of literature and film, as well as those aspects of myth, policy and history they don’t like.

  17. Stopping or Selling Human Germline Modification?, by Pete Shanks on May 7, 2015
    Debate about human germline engineering has taken off since publication of a paper describing failed attempts to genetically modify a human embryo.

  18. Calling for "More than a Moratorium" on Human Germline Modification, by Jessica Cussins on April 9, 2015
    A broader array of critical responses and policy suggestions follows recent reports that the gene-editing technique CRISPR has been used to genetically modify human sperm, eggs or embryos.

  19. DARPA, Synthetic Biology and Human Germline Engineering, by Pete Shanks on April 9, 2015
    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is committed to synthetic biology as one of its four main project areas, and may be involved in human germline experiments.

  20. Incurious about Ethics?, by Marcy Darnovsky on April 9, 2015
    An Institute of Medicine committee is studying the "ethical and social policy" implications of germline mitochondrial manipulation. Why do most of its members seem uninterested in social or policy questions?

  21. A Tipping Point on Human Germline Modification?, by Jessica Cussins on March 19, 2015
    Amidst reports that human embryos have been modified using the gene editing technique CRISPR, several groups of scientists have issued statements proposing moratoria on human germline genome editing.

  22. Human Germline Hype Pings around the Globe, by Pete Shanks on November 20, 2013
    Crispr gene-editing technology gets a publicity push from a failing British newspaper.

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Center for Genetics and Society Press Releases

  1. Center for Genetics and Society releases open letter and report calling for prohibitions on human germline engineering (November 29th, 2015)
    Scholars, health practitioners, scientists, public interest advocates, and others have signed a CGS-organized open letter calling for strengthened prohibitions against heritable human genetic modification.

  2. Center for Genetics and Society Comments on First Application to Pursue Genome Editing in Human Embryos (September 18, 2015)
    "If scientists and the regulatory agency in the UK are serious about responsible use of powerful new gene altering technologies, they won't be rushing ahead in ways that could open the door to genetically modified humans."

  3. Center for Genetics and Society Comments on White House and National Academies Approaches to Altering the Human Germline (May 27, 2015)
    "The endorsement of a pause by the White House is an important first step."

  4. NIH Statement on Gene Editing Highlights Need for Stronger US Stance on Genetically Modified Humans, Says Public Interest Group (April 29, 2015)
    CGS welcomes NIH Director Francis Collins' unambiguous statement that "altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes … has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed."

  5. Public Interest Group Calls for Strengthening Global Policies Against Human Germline Modification (April 22, 2015)
    "No researcher has the moral warrant to flout the globally widespread policy agreement against altering the human germline."

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