Science fiction is full of cautionary tales about genetically engineered human beings. That technology is fiction no more. The journal Science recently named the CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing technique the most significant scientific breakthrough of 2015. Jun Jiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China used the technique on non-viable in-vitro fertilization embryos to turn off the gene responsible for the blood disorder beta-thalessaemia. This ability raises a host of ethical issues, so much so, that the National Academy of Sciences and Medicine, the China Academy of Sciences and the United Kingdom’s Royal Society held an international summit this December on the issue.
Francoise Baylis joins Buzz host Brian Standing by phone from Toronto. She is a Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and helped organize the recent ethics summit.
You can read more about the International gene editing summit at nationalacademies.org