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scientific journals, published a commentary entitled Don’t Edit the Human Germ
Line.5 This commentary argued that, for both safety and ethical reasons,
researchers should not utilize the CRISPR/Cas9 protocol to modify human
embryos or gametes in ways that, if applied clinically, might give rise to
heritable changes.6 It also spoke approvingly of broader efforts to prohibit
such techniques.7 Similar calls for a moratorium on or prohibition of such
research also emerged elsewhere in the scientific and bioethics communities.8
Others took a more sanguine approach. Two prominent researchers who
played central roles in pioneering the CRISPR/Cas9 protocol have proposed
that governments permit research, including on the human germline, to
proceed.9 These researchers nonetheless agreed that clinical use of germline
editing should be kept at bay for the present time.10 The regulatory body
charged with licensing human-embryo research in the United Kingdom,
meanwhile, recently approved just such an arrangement—permitting gene
editing in embryos for research purposes, but not for clinical use.11
5. Edward Lanphier et al., Don’t Edit the Human Germ Line, 519 NATURE 410 (2015).
6. Id. at 410; see also Gretchen Vogel, Embryo Engineering Alarm: Researchers Call for Restraint
in Genome Editing, 347 SCIENCE 1301, 1301 (2015) (“Edward Lanphier, and four colleagues call
for a moratorium on any experiments that involve editing genes in human embryos or cells that
could give rise to sperm or eggs.”).
7. Lanphier et al., supra note 5, at 411; see also Tanya Lewis, 2 Leading Biologists Say We Should
Allow Gene Editing on Human Embryos, BUS. INSIDER (Nov. 30, 2015, 11:00 AM), http://www.
businessinsider. com/leading-bio logists-say-we-should-allow-gene-editing-on-human-embryos-2015-11
(describing Lanphier’s commentary as “call[ing] for a ban on such research”); Why Banning CRISPR
Gene Editing Would Be Unnecessarily Cautious, NEW SCIENTIST (Dec. 2, 2015 ), https://www.newscientist.
this year, a few researchers . . . call[ed] for a temporary ban even on basic research.”).
8. See Jocelyn Kaiser & Dennis Normile, Embryo Engineering Study Splits Scientific Community,
348 SCIENCE 486, 486 (2015) (stating that, in the wake of the Liang et al. article reporting
germline editing of non-viable human embryos, “[t]he Center for Genetics and Society in
Berkeley, California, a watchdog group, called for a halt to such experiments. The Society for
Developmental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland, called for a voluntary moratorium as well”); John
Travis, Germline Editing Dominates DNA Summit, 350 SCIENCE 1299, 1300 (2015) (“Catholic
theologian Hille Haker of Loyola University Chicago in Illinois . . . called for a ban on all human
germline editing research.”); see also Hille Haker, Loyola Univ. Chi., Remarks at the International
Summit on Human Gene Editing, Panel on Societal Implications of Emerging Technol ogies
(Dec. 1, 2015) (calling for a moratorium on basic research on germline gene editing for two
years to allow for development of “[r]egulations to exclude that basic research [that may be] used
to pave the way for reproductive gene editing,” and arguing that both “[p]ublic [and] private
research must be regulated by laws and/or effective forms of governance”).
9. David Baltimore et al., A Prudent Path Forward for Genomic Engineering and Germline Gene
Modification, 348 SCIENCE 36, 37 (2015); Jennifer Doudna, Embryo Editing Needs Scrutiny, 528
NATURE S6, S6 (2015).
10. Baltimore et al., supra note 9, at 37; Doudna, supra note 9, at S6.
11. Press Release, Human Fertilisation & Embryology Auth., HFEA Approves Licence
Application to Use Gene Editing in Research (Feb. 1, 2016), http://www.hfea.gov.uk/
10187.html; se e also Ewen Callaway, UK Scientists Gain Licence to Edit Genes in Human Embryos,
NATURE (Feb. 4, 2016), http://www.nature.com/news/uk-scientists-gain-licence-to-edit-genes-in-