The world is still not ready for genetically modified children: scientists

Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press

Posted Thursday 29 November 2018 1:21 EST

HONG KONG – A group of senior scientists said it's too early to try to make lasting DNA changes that can be inherited by future generations, as the Chinese researcher says.

Scientists have gathered this week in Hong Kong at an international conference on gene editing, the ability to rewrite the code of life to try to correct or prevent disease.

Although science promises to help people who have already been born, a statement issued Thursday by fourteen conference leaders says it is irresponsible to try it on ova, sperm or embryo because their risks or safety are not yet known.

The conference was sacked by a Chinese researcher's assertion that it helped produce the world's first-ever baby, twins who said they were born earlier this month. The Heads of Conferences have called for an independent investigation into the allegations by He Jiankui of Shenzhen, who on Wednesday voiced his international criticism of his actions.

Several prominent scientists have said that the case has proven the failure of the field police and the need for stricter rules or regulations.

There are some rules to prevent it, said Alta Charo, lawyer and bioetist at the University of Wisconsin and conference organizer.

"I think his failure was his, not a scientific community," Charo said.

The three-day conference was sponsored by the Hong Kong Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom and the American National Academy of Sciences and the American National Academy of Physicians.

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