#1066 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 26 April 2015
Rumours that Chinese scientists have edited the genome of human embryos appear to be true, reigniting ethical debates and pressuring other nations to fast-track similar research.
According to a report in Nature News, researchers at Sun Yat-sen University led by Junjiu Huang introduced corrective DNA into the genetic material of 86 non-viable human embryos that would have developed a deadly blood disorder, with limited success.
Critics say that while the technology could one day eliminate genetic diseases like Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis, it could also be adapted to create designer humans with desired traits.
And there are unresolved ethical issues regarding experimentation on viable human embryos, and the unknown impact on future generations.
Such concerns will not halt commercial pressure to expand the research, since no one wants to be left behind. But medical ethics should have an active role in determining what is right and good, and what actually happens in the laboratory.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.