Scientists join call for moratorium on embryonic gene editing

Catholic News Agency | 5/4/2019 | Staff
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Milwaukee, Wis., May 4, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- A group of 62 doctors, scientists, and bioethicists have issued an open letter urging a global moratorium on experiments that alter human genes that can be passed on to subsequent generations, a practice known as “germline editing.”

“Although we recognize the great scientific advancement represented by gene editing technologies and their potential value for an improved understanding and possible treatment of human disease, we strongly believe the editing of human embryos that results in births carries serious problems for which there are no scientific, ethical, or societal consensuses,” the letter from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy reads.

Organization - Letter - April - US - Secretary

The organization sent the letter April 24 to US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

“As a result, we contend that such human genetic manipulation should be considered unacceptable and support a binding global moratorium until serious scientific, societal, and ethical concerns are fully addressed,” it reads.

Dignitas - Personae - Instruction - Questions - Congregation

In Dignitas personae, its 2008 instruction on certain bioethical questions, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that while somatic cell gene therapy is in principle morally licit, “because the risks connected to [germline cell therapy] are considerable and as yet not fully controllable, in the present state of research, it is not morally permissible to act in a way that may cause possible harm to the resulting progeny.”

The instruction also warned against a “eugenic mentality” that aims to improve the gene pool, adding that there could be social stigmas and privileges applied to people with certain genetic qualities, when “such qualities do not constitute what is specifically human.”

April - Letter - Time - Scientists - Issue

The April letter is not the first time prominent scientists have addressed the issue of germline editing; in 2015, a group of five scientists published an op-ed in the journal Nature warning that “heritable human genetic...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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