Designer babies may be 'morally' acceptable, United Kingdom ethics council decides

20 July, 2018, 07:06 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Editing DNA for designer babies ‘may be justified’			
				 
   by Sally Wardle 
  Published

Yeung, a professor of law, ethics, and informatics at the University of Birmingham, told The Guardian that the Nuffield working group saw no issues for now with proper rules that would make such medical work unscrupulous. However, by no means does the report suggest we jump right into editing human embryos.

Genome editing involves deliberately altering the DNA of a human embryo, sperm or egg before it is transferred to the womb.

Commenting on the Nuffield Council of Bioethics' review of genome editing, Dr David King, Director of Human Genetics Alert, said: "This is an absolute disgrace". If the law were to ever change, genome editing should be strictly regulated, it added.

"The implications for society are extensive, profound and long-term", the inquiry chair Karen Yeung said, according to the BBC News.

Even though the report called for additional research before any laws could be changed, it drew swift criticism from others, including one lobbying group accusing the authors of opening the door to the unrestricted use of heritable genetic engineering, The Guardian said.

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"We must have an worldwide ban on creating genetically engineered babies", he said in an emailed statement. For example, beyond the issues surrounding designer babies, people are anxious of the harms that could come from manipulating genes - tiny traces of ourselves that we will pass down to future generations, where they will continue to exert their influence.

But arguably, the most controversial aspect of gene editing concerns the potential to introduce changes to the germline - DNA alterations that would pass down the generations.

Uncertainty exists over the types of things genome editing may be able to achieve, but given how the field has advanced or how much further it can spread, potential use of genome editing to influence characteristic of future generations has countless possibilities, which could have impacts on individuals, families, and society.

Before we get to that point, we must conduct further research to establish safety standards, according to the report.

One of the co-authors, Jackie Leach Scully, professor of social ethics and bioethics at Newcastle University, said that heritable genome editing may one day become an option for parents "to try and secure what they think is the best start in life" for their children. A study published yesterday (July 16) in the journal Nature Biotechnology found that CRISPR-Cas9 could be causing more harm than scientists previously thought, by unintentionally deleting, rearranging or mutating large chunks of DNA. "It plays into an ongoing - and worldwide - discussion".

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