Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Gene editing: Why not do this on animals?

A lot of papers were hailing a "gene editing" of a bad gene in a human embryo last week.

What was missed: They then killed the embryo, so how do they know it would work?

essentially they took a human child and killed it to prove something...

and so let it grow up to be a baby? Uh, no: that would be unethical because it would be making the child an experiment.

A panel of the American Society of Human Genetics, joined by representatives from 10 organizations scattered across the globe, recommended against genome editing that culminates in human pregnancy. Their views were published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics
Ironically, they have more of a problem if the embryo was left to become a baby than with killing it.

This is just as immoral as IVF, which is done routinely: They know that many embryos will be destroyed, and that many will not survive transplant, but hey, the result is wonderful... as long as you don't worry about over the ethical status of those  babies in the freezer.

When I was in medical school, a fertilized egg was reconized as human, but ethics forced the biology books to be changed to allow the "morning after pill", IVF (and destroying left over embryos) etc.

But gene editing is taking this one step further.

this is opening a pandora's box to let mad scientists and governments to make superhumans or untermensch...

and of course, this is already being done on animals. 

so where do you draw the line?

Nat Hentoff once called bioethicists the "apologists for deathmaking" because you can always find one to justify what you want to do.

I am not against GM modification per se, but without a recognition that there are nuances and lines that should not be crossed is a problem in today's amoral post ethics world.

And of course even if they ban it in the US, Chinese scientists will go ahead and do it if it could make money. 

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