Three members of the Centre for Genetics and Society, a California-based lobby group, have published a stern critique of germline modification on human rights grounds. Writing in Open Global Rights, Marcy Darnovsky, Leah Lowthrop, and Katie Hasson argue that changing the genome “would violate human dignity, a concept at the core of human rights”.
it’s important to remind ourselves why key human rights documents specifically prohibited these practices, long before they were technically feasible. The medical justifications for human germline modification fall short, and the temptation to “enhance” future generations is profoundly dangerous. Down that road, our scientific achievements would all too likely become not instruments of enlightenment and emancipation, but mechanisms for exacerbating inequality. And our desire to improve the human condition would lead us away from the realization of the human rights that we know are needed for individuals, societies, and humanity to thrive.The rapid pace of these developments creates an urgent need for the global community—perhaps gathering under UN auspices—to reaffirm existing agreements and clearly prohibit the dangerous and unethical use of reproductive gene-editing.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
In 2004, Californian voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 71, a ballot initiative which created the US$3 billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. This was the apogee of stem cell fundamentalism around the world. Stem cells, especially human embryonic stem cells, were the key to unlock the secrets of human biology. They would lead to cures to dread diseases, perhaps not tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow.
Hollywood stars enthusiastically backed the ballot initiative. Quadriplegic Christopher Reeves told voters in an advertisement, "Stem cells have already cured paralysis in animals. Stem cells are the future of medicine." Parkinson’s victim Michael J. Fox said: "Vote yes on 71, and save the life of someone you love."Fourteen years on, the CIRM (aka California taxpayers) has received its first royalties – a cheque for US$190,345.87 – a 0.00006% return on investment. And that’s not for a cure, by the way. It’s for a drug which has only passed a Phase I clinical trial. Clearly, California voters were sold a pup. Is it time for the state to set up a stem cell truth and reconciliation commission? Read the story below.
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