What criteria will determine an ethical use of human genome editing?

The ethical and regulatory considerations posed by genome-editing research using human embryos in the laboratory have been explored in the past: the moral status of the embryo, the acceptability of making embryos for research or using embryos that would otherwise be discarded, and legal or voluntary limits that apply to the use of embryos in research. These same ethical considerations are raised in other countries. Even with recognition of the scientific value of using human embryos in research, the practice is limited, discouraged, or even prohibited in many jurisdictions. Genome editing of human embryos purely for nonreproductive research purposes will be subject to those same ethical norms and policies. Where permitted, however, oversight procedures already in place for other forms of embryo research should provide assurance of the necessity and quality of the research.

Oversight of laboratory research using human cells and tissues is an expression of the principle of Responsible Science, which includes high-quality experimental design and protocol review. Science proceeds by rigorous peer review and publication of results, and also benefits from sharing of and access to data that can support continued development of the field. The principle of Transparency supports sharing information to the fullest extent possible consistent with applicable law. Respect for diversity among nations in domestic policy on research using human embryos should not be an obstacle to Transnational Cooperation, including data sharing, collaboration by regulatory authorities, and, where possible, harmonization of standards.


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