Genetics can alter the DNA of children

Genetics can alter the DNA of children

Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust (the charity that publishes BioNews), said: 'We welcome this report's conclusion that the clinical use of genome editing to make heritable changes may be ethically acceptable, if certain stipulations are met.

The first is that such interventions must be consistent with "the welfare of a person who may be born as a outcome", and second, they must "uphold principles of social justice and solidarity", meaning that they do not "produce or exacerbate social division, or marginalise or disadvantage groups in society".

The report, Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues, sets out to highlight the ethical issues surrounding this potential practice.

It proposed that for gene editing techniques in human reproduction to be ethically acceptable, two overarching principles should guide their use - that they should be meant to secure the welfare of the future person, and should not increase disadvantage, discrimination or division in society. These are the overarching principles. Additionally, we'll need to assess any potential risks to individuals, groups, or society in general, and figure out a system for monitoring and addressing any unforeseen adverse affects as they may crop up.

The Council have called for a broad and inclusive societal debate, with as many voices as possible heard.

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In a new report, the UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has concluded that the use of heritable genome editing "could be ethically acceptable in some circumstances".

The council suggested that an independent body or commission be set up in the United Kingdom to lead the debate on the topic and contribute to the development of national and global guidelines.

Officials involved in the ethical review cautioned that measures must be put in place before such modifications can become legal and they called for additional research medically and socially. "However, if the technology develops it has potential to become an alternative strategy available to parents for achieving a wider range of goals".

'Initially, this might involve preventing the inheritance of a specific genetic disorder. Heritable genome editing interventions are made to egg, sperm, embryo cells, or their precursors, that edited DNA sequence would then be present in all cells of any future person grown from those cells, passed on from generation to generation.

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