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He Jiankui

In 2018, Jiankui He (pictured) announced that he had edited genes in embryos to create two baby girls.

Gene editing to make heritable changes in human DNA isn’t yet safe and effective enough to make gene-edited babies, an international scientific commission says. But in a Sept. 3 report, the group laid out a road map for rolling out heritable gene editing should society decide that kind of DNA alteration is acceptable.

The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing formed after a Chinese scientist announced in 2018 that he had created two gene-edited baby girls, sparking outrage (SN: 11/27/18). In its first official weigh-in on the issue, the group lays out strict scientific criteria that would need to be met before heritable gene editing could be tried clinically. If countries can’t ensure that all of those criteria are met, heritable gene editing shouldn’t be approved, the commissioners say.

Still, some critics charge that even presenting such criteria is premature. The science should wait until society decides whether to allow gene editing that can... see more