Center for Genetics and Society Statement: Introduction of the Senate Resolution on Gene-editing Research

Press Statement
image of US Congress building

On July 15, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for the creation of international ethical standards for gene-editing research.

The Center for Genetics and Society welcomes the introduction of this resolution, which highlights the importance of international cooperation and broadly inclusive public deliberation in making the consequential decision about whether to allow heritable genome editing.

“The timing is key,” said CGS’ Executive Director Marcy Darnovsky. “Just last month, a second scientist publicly stated his intention to edit human embryos using CRISPR and establish pregnancies. We are at a tipping point with this issue, which is why this resolution is so important now. Our elected officials — and all the rest of us — must speak out about human genome editing before it is too late.”

The Center for Genetics and Society has long held that the U.S. should join the dozens of countries that have already prohibited heritable genome editing. In our view, permitting it could greatly exacerbate social inequities. This is also why we believe any decision to use heritable genome editing would be illegitimate in the absence of broad societal consensus. The resolution addresses this concern indirectly, stating that the Senate “recognizes that the question of whether to proceed with heritable genome editing touches on all of humanity.”

“We hope this resolution passes and that its passage serves as a catalyst for these deliberations,” said CGS’ Director of Genetic Justice Katie Hasson. “Congress should play an active role in supporting opportunities for thoughtful, inclusive conversations on this consequential issue. In the meantime, we need an enforceable global moratorium on creating gene-edited babies to allow time for public engagement, which must include social justice and disability rights advocates. This issue is too important to be decided by small groups of elite scientists and other experts.”