The report’s recommendations are that in very, very limited cases, editing of viable human embryos should be allowed to go forward in the United States — a conclusion that’s certain to prove controversial. In particular, the report argues, clinical trials to edit human sperm, eggs, and embryos should be permissible in cases where there’s a high chance of preventing babies from being born with serious genetic diseases and no “reasonable alternatives” exist.
The panel says editing embryos for human enhancement — say, making people stronger or more intelligent — should absolutely not proceed in the United States until there’s much broader society-wide discussion of the thorny ethics involved, like the risks of exacerbating the gap between rich and poor
The report says
1) Basic research on human cells in a lab (this is OK)
2) Clinical trials to edit somatic cells in living humans. (This is ok per the report to edit non-reproductive cells)
3) Editing sperm, eggs, and embryos to stop inheritable diseases. (this is ok per the report)
4) Editing the human genome for “enhancement.”
The report has problems with this because it can make inequality worse
Might it one day become so prevalent that enhancement becomes mandatory, like vaccines are today?
Should parents have a right to improve their children through genetic modification?
How far should regulations around genome editing go to respect religious and cultural discomfort?
Are there risks we haven’t even thought of yet?
So is report saying that we should debated it it was ok to have vaccines prior to their deployment. This saying that the world rushed to deploy vaccines before ethicists permitted it.
The report is saying that we need to examine how many rights parents have to improve their children.
Parents can pay for better education. Parents can spend more time working to help their kids to learn. But how about poorer people or single moms ? They do not have the time to work with their kids or afford better education. We better have an ethicist tell us that we are increasing inequality by helping our kids.
How about inheritance ? should there not be 100% taxes on inheritance. We are perpetuating inequality by allowing money to move generations.
Also, should we not force out kids to equal state homes. Otherwise they will get inequal benefits by living in more expensive homes or better circumstances.
Also, why should Michael Jordan have been allowed to exercise and practice basketball ? He was increasing his inequal basketball advantage.
Why was Einstein allowed to study ? He was increasing his advantage in science knowledge.
Why should Japan be allowed to improve pollution or public health standards ? They are increasing their life expectancy advantage over other countries.
Maybe Health clubs and fitness equipment should be banned. They can be effectively used to increase human strength. They were not reviewed by Ethicists before deployment
Libraries and schools need review. They can increase effective intelligence and increase inequality. Maybe ethics classes can be permitted because they can safely not increase intelligence or inequality.
So instead of finding ways to raise people up and increase wealth, health, intelligence and other factors as we can, then we should not be permitted to do it unless we start by raising the bottom. Or perhaps we cannot even progress until permitted by ethicists
But should we just control what genetics people have to prevent children that are too strong or too smart ? So we should prevent pro-athletes or Olympians from marrying each other. Andre Agassi and Stephie Graph should not have been permitted to have children. Scientists and people with high IQ need to not have children. We are stacking the genetic deck in their favor.
There are hundreds of multi-generation pro-sports families. Clearly we needed to get the ethicists involved. There are also multi-generation where all ended up as doctors or scientists. How about Tom Brady and Gisele ? Where are the genetic ethicists on that ?
But what about Eugenics ?
So the issue with Eugenics programs in the past, was that some of them were used as excuses to kill or sterilize a lot of people.
No special ethics degree is needed to know that it is bad to have policy to kill or sterilize a lot of people.
George Church, a geneticist at Harvard and one of the pioneers of CRISPR, has long argued that while the benefits of editing embryos seem small right now, they are compelling enough to expand research. Here’s what he told Stat in 2015:
We need only one compelling argument to initiate a new social norm — even when the market is small (as for orphan drugs). For germline modification, we have at least three compelling cases:
1) mitochondrial diseases;
2) families in which post-natal remedies are inadequate and both parents are fully afflicted (20 percent of the world’s marriages involve close relatives); and
3) scenarios in which treating (and possibly pre-screening) single germ cells is safer than treating millions of somatic cells, since each cell adds to the collective risk of developing cancer.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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