Chinese biotech versus international ethics? Accounting for the China–America CRISPR ethical divide
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In March 2015, molecular biologists concerned about the use of the new gene-editing technology called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) met in Napa, California to consider ethical issues raised by the new technique. Because the CRISPR-Cas9 system targets DNA at very specific sites with high efficiency, the technique offers a powerful way to cut and paste genes. Using CRISPR to modify non-human animal embryos has been shown to be an effective way to alter the genome of whole organisms without needing to rely on embryonic stem cells or homologous recombination. The possibility of applying such organism-wide gene editing to humans has renewed concerns about the consequences of ‘designing’ humans.
The final statement of the Napa meeting, at which all of the participants were American, “strongly discourage[d] … any attempts at germline genome modification for clinical application in humans, while societal, environmental, and ethical...
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