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Double helix angled in the corner

Françoise Baylis wonders how it is that in 14 months (from December 2015 to February 2017), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine have moved human germline genome editing out of the category ‘irresponsible’ and into the category ‘permissible.’

In December 2015, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.K.’s Royal Society co-hosted an International Summit on Human Gene Editing. At the close of the meeting, members of the Summit Organizing Committee issued a Statement that included four discrete conclusions. In response to the Statement, the Presidents of the four co-sponsoring organizations confirmed that: “Together with academies around the world, and in coordination with other international scientific and medical institutions, we stand ready to establish a continuing forum for assessment of the many scientific, medical, and ethical questions surrounding the pursuit of human gene-editing applications.”

One of the pivotal conclusions in the 2015 Statement was that “it would be irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germline editing unless... see more