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There’s an “urgent need” to create a transparent global registry that would list all experiments related to human genome editing, an expert committee convened to advise the World Health Organization (WHO) said today. The international committee of 18 researchers and bioethicists, which met in Geneva, Switzerland, over the past 2 days, also agreed with the widespread consensus that it would be “irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing.”

The committee stopped short, however, of endorsing the call for a “moratorium” on human germline editing issued last week by prominent group of researchers in a Nature commentary. “I don’t think a vague moratorium is the answer to what needs to be done,” said Margaret Hamburg, a co-chair of the WHO committee who formerly headed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and now works with the U.S. National Academy of Medicine in Washington, D.C., during a teleconference for the media today. Several other high-profile statements and reports on genome editing have also avoided using the word “moratorium,” although they have similarly emphasized... see more