Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Recent Genetic Modification Mishap Calls for Moratorium on the Procedure

Mar 16, 2019 02:03 PM EDT

DNA Structure
(Photo : PublicDomainPictures)

The technique to change the characteristics of an animal, plant, or even a microorganism is now made possible by the hardworking men and women of science. The process is called genetic modification. The desired genes are targeted and removed from one organism and then transferred to another organism.

He Jiankui, the Chinese geneticist who announced his modification of human embryos, is now in state detention and could possibly face a death sentence. 

The embryos he modified were carried to term and later resulted in twin girls. The scientific community are not pleased about this ordeal and are wary about the consequences that the Chinese geneticist's action would have on the community and on the twin girls, themselves.

Gene modification in humans have not been regulated and studied in depth to the point of application. It can have some potential ethical and medical risks. This is why more genetics researchers are calling for stricter rules and regulations so that the recent incident could be avoided in the future.

The group, composed of 18 scientists from the different parts of the world, called for a global moratorium on all the clinical uses of human germline modification. The scientists are pertaining to modification of heritable DNA in eggs, sperm, or embryos with the purpose of making genetically modified children.

The group explained that they are not calling for a permanent ban when they used the term "global moratorium." Rather, they are aiming for an established international framework where specific conditions should be met before approving any process of germline editing.

For nations allowing works of genetic modification, various discussions revolving around the issues relating to the subject matter should be held in advance. The moratorium is recommended for nations who wish to avoid the risks posed by the research, while the nations that will push through with the research will have to make sure the conditions are met before conducting any procedure.

Indeed, the human race has now reached a very fascinating point in genetic science history where the tools and knowledge needed for more remarkable studies and experiments are now within the reach of the researchers. Scientists are now presented with the possibility of modifying the genetic makeup of a human being. The issue lies in the ethical conundrum faced when endangering lives is a possibility that comes with the opportunity. Scientists are not wired to risk testing on actual human lives only to find out.

Still, the possibility of genetic modification to cure or prevent certain diseases or conditions is known to the group of scientists pushing for a moratorium. Their point, as they have stated in their paper, is that the scientific community is not yet in the position to make an informed decision.

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