Scientists urge for global moratorium on genetically modifying babies

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Leading scientists are urging for an international moratorium on using the gene editing technique to make genetically modified babies.

In an article written in the journal Nature, they said that they also want countries to register and declare any plans that scientists may have — of using the gene editing techniques such as Crispr on DNA of sperm, eggs or embryos destined for live births — and discuss them through an international body, preferably associated with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

About four months ago a Chinese scientist had said that twin girls, Lulu and Nana, had their genes edited to make them resistant to HIV.

There are major ethical and medical concerns over the impact that the release of these edited genes that the persons will carry.

“By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban. Rather, we call for the establishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily commit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met,” the authors said.

The 17 experts included Emmanuelle Charpentier and Feng Zhang, who discovered and developed the Crispr technology.

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