Human Genetic Modification


Human genetic modification (or “gene editing”) can be used in two very different ways. Somatic genome editing changes the genes in a patient’s cells to treat a medical condition. A few gene therapies are approaching clinical use but remain extraordinarily expensive.

By contrast, heritable genome editing would change genes in eggs, sperm, or early embryos to try to control the traits of a future child. Such alterations would affect every cell of the resulting person and all subsequent generations.

For safety, ethical, and social reasons, heritable genome editing is widely considered unacceptable. It is prohibited in 70 countries and by a binding international treaty.  Nevertheless, in 2018 one scientist announced the birth of twins whose embryos he had edited. This reckless experiment intensified debate between advocates of heritable genome editing and those concerned it could exacerbate inequality and lead to a new, market-based eugenics.

This episode of the Al Jazeera video series Start Here features an interview with CGS Program Director on Genetic Justice, Katie Hasson.
Biopolitical Times
Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China published a paper on April 18, 2015, detailing the first use of the “gene editing” technology CRISPR in human embryos. The news initiated a global media firestorm
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Genome editing is a way of making changes to specific parts of a genome. Scientists have been able to alter DNA...

Biopolitical Times

Public and policy conversations about heritable human genome editing often leave the impression that rules governing it are few and...

blue strand of dna dissolving into blue background

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Partial image from Bridge Recombination Mechanism video

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Red and yellow poster stating: "Only healthy seed must be sown! Check the seeds of hereditary disease and unfitness by eugenics."

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