WHO panel issues gene-editing standards aimed at avoiding DNA dystopia

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WHO panel issues gene-editing standards aimed at avoiding DNA dystopia

An advisory panel of WHO experts on Monday released two new reports recommending implementation of global standards aimed at preventing unfair and dangerous uses of Crispr and other gene-editing technologies.

The reports call for efforts to develop global standards, the creation of an international registry of gene-editing trials and a way for whistleblowers to report concerns. Their release comes more than two years after a Chinese researcher It sparked an international outcry When it was revealed that he used Crispr to produce The first genetically modified baby.

The panel, made up of ethicists, policy makers and lawyers, said in the reports that the use of genetic modification has evolved significantly since they began in December 2018 to develop a governance framework and that recent successes in altering the DNA of people with fatal diseases. Diseases opened up ethical challenges.

The reports described several scenarios in which the proposed strategies might help prevent them, including gene-editing experiments in low-income countries to develop treatments that would ultimately be too costly for all but the richest; unscrupulous clinics providing unsafe or ineffective gene-editing services to people desperate to overcome potentially life-threatening conditions; and use genetic editing to enhance traits such as athletic ability.

said committee member Françoise Baylis, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and an expert in the ethics of human gene editing.

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