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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

'Should we even consider this?' WHO starts work on gene editing ethics

Agence France-Presse
Originally published 3 Dec 2018

The World Health Organization is creating a panel to study the implications of gene editing after a Chinese scientist controversially claimed to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies.

“It cannot just be done without clear guidelines,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the UN health agency, said in Geneva.

The organisation was gathering experts to discuss rules and guidelines on “ethical and social safety issues”, added Tedros, a former Ethiopian health minister.

Tedros made the comments after a medical trial, which was led by Chinese scientist He Jiankui, claimed to have successfully altered the DNA of twin girls, whose father is HIV-positive, to prevent them from contracting the virus.

His experiment has prompted widespread condemnation from the scientific community in China and abroad, as well as a backlash from the Chinese government.

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