On a cold, drizzly night almost three years ago, I stood inside the nearly deserted Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., I was in town to attend the first International Summit on Human Gene Editing organized by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine. After a day of intense talks at the meeting, I had gone for a long walk and found myself looking up at Big Abe. A big question was on my mind: Would the organizers of the meeting call for a moratorium on using CRISPR to make gene-edited babies, as I hoped they would?
When I learned of that decision, my feeling was that someone would report the creation of the first “CRISPR baby” within the next few years. That might happen even with a moratorium, but the odds had just increased substantially.
Since then, there have been similar meetings around the world about human germline gene editing — editing eggs, sperm, and embryos that are then used to make people — along with official reports from committees. None called for a...