Extreme Genetic Engineering and the Human Future

Extreme Genetic Engineering and the Human Future

The Center for Genetics and Society and Friends of the Earth examine the human applications, current and anticipated, of synthetic biology and gene editing. This 50-page report, released on November 30, 2015, challenges claims that this new set of genetic engineering techniques should be seen as "the future of manufacturing, engineering and medicine."

We call for:

  • National and international prohibitions on the use of gene editing and synthetic biology to alter the human germline for reproductive purposes. This call is especially relevant in those countries, like the U.S., that have not already enacted such a prohibition.
  • Explicit and expansive public engagement on the human applications of synthetic biology, including consideration of not just safety thresholds, but also of social and ethical concerns.
  • An ongoing, transparent, democratic process with which to evaluate and appropriately regulate new, emerging and proposed human applications of synthetic biology. This broad public oversight will hold scientists and
    entrepreneurs accountable to responsible regulation of these potentially hazardous technologies.
  • Increased investment in more socially just and less risky solutions to environmental, health and social problems.

Center for Genetics and Society press release

Friends of the Earth press release

Executive Summary [pdf]

Full Report [pdf]

Open Letter

CGS has also released an Open Letter on Reproductive Human Germline Modification, initially signed by over 140 experts, and still open for signatures.

Signatories represent a broad spectrum of scholars, scientists, health practitioners, public interest advocates, and others, with a wide range of opinions on many questions involving the uses of gene editing. All agree that we must not engineer the genes we pass on to our descendants.