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Human Gene Editing

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Scientist argue, a Congressional ban on human germline modification has “drawn new lines in the sand” on gene editing legislation. Harvard law and bioethics professor I. Glenn Cohen and leading biologist Eli Adashiof Brown University say “that without a course correction,the United States is ceding its leadership in this arena to other nations”.

Germline gene modification is the act of making heritable changes to early stage human embryos or sex cells that can be passed down to the next generation, and it will be banned in the US. This is different from somatic gene editing, which is editing cells of humans that have already been born.

The Summary

A potentially renewable provision of the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2016 forestalling the prospect of human germline modification was signed into law on 18 December 2015 (1). The provision, also known as a rider (an amendment extraneous to the main purpose of the bill to which it is attached), stipulates that “none of the funds made available by this Act [to the FDA] may be used to review or approve an application for an exemption for investigational use of a drug or biological product… in which a human embryo is intentionally created or modified to include a heritable genetic modification” (1). Destined to expire at the conclusion of this fiscal year (30 September 2016), the rider has since been incorporated yet again into the House and Senate appropriation bills for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2017 (2, 3). Subject to ongoing annual renewal, this congressionally legislated ban undermines ongoing conversations on the possibility of human germline modification, its likely distant time horizon notwithstanding (4). Also affected are ongoing efforts of the FDA to review the prevention of mitochondrial DNA diseases through germline modification of human zygotes or oocytes at risk (5).

Question

Are the U.S. Scientist concerned that other countries will create a superior human being or super race before the U.S.? LOOK OUT FRANKENSTEIN

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