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Prominent science policy reports that set the stage for the recent Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing all raise questions about human enhancement. Enhancement concerns also consistently loom large in public attitudes on possible uses of these genomic technologies. It may seem surprising, then, that enhancement received little formal attention at the Summit. Instead, the Summit focused elsewhere–on issues of access to emerging forms of somatic cell genome editing for genetic disease. Here we report our observations on the Summit’s de-emphasis of enhancement questions and suggest some consequences of continuing this trend in subsequent science policy deliberations.

Despite its absence from the Summit’s agenda, the topic of genome editing for human enhancement did spontaneously bubble up at the meeting in interesting ways. On the first day, outside the Summit’s venue, London’s Francis Crick Institute,  protesters passed out pamphlets titled “Stop Designer Babies.” At first it seemed as if the protest would succeed in making enhancement an important topic at the Summit. In the opening session, Robin Lovell-Badge, chair of the Summit’s organizing committee, referenced the protesters and also noted... see more