The 2018 revelation of the birth of the first babies whose DNA had been edited shocked the world and was met almost instantly with condemnation from scientists, ethicists, and policymakers around the world  (Box 1). The news was not a shock to quite everyone, however. A recent article reveals that a large number of individuals around the world knew about the experiment, in one form or another, before the news broke internationally . He Jiankui, who led the experiment, had built up an international network of collaborators for several of his biotechnology ventures and at various stages communicated progress of his experiment to international colleagues. Some now say they tried to discourage him, but none made known the ongoing experiment to the broader international community.
In this article, we argue that revealing such activities is in line with scientists’ responsibilities to uphold the integrity and trustworthiness of the scientific enterprise. However, the international context complicates the situation; it is not clear whom individuals who knew about the experiment should have approached. To fill... see more