Intended for healthcare professionals


Human genome editing is not unethical, says Nuffield Council

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 17 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3140
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London, UK

There is no moral or ethical objection to making changes to the human genome that would pass down to future generations, as long as certain preconditions are met, the Nuffield Council for Bioethics has concluded.1

Germline engineering, as the technique is sometimes called, was for a long time the red line in biology. Any changes made would become part of the genome of the individual, to be passed on to future generations. The uncertainties and risks were deemed so great that it should never be attempted.

But attitudes have shifted so much that the Nuffield report does not even attempt to restrict the technique to therapeutic uses. It says, rather, that it could be ethically acceptable if it contributes to the welfare of the person born as a consequence and does not increase …

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