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Scientists back temporary global ban on gene-edited babies

March 13, 2019 / Malcolm Ritter

An international group of scientists and ethicists on Wednesday called for a temporary global ban on making babies with edited genes. It's the latest reaction to last November's announcement that gene-edited twins had been born in China, which was widely criticized. Mainstream scientists generally oppose making babies with altered DNA now, citing safety and ethical issues that must be addressed first. Such genetic changes may be passed to future generations, unlike gene editing done in parts of the body not involved in reproduction. So news last year that Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed to have edited DNA of embryos provoked widespread condemnation. Some scientists had called for a moratorium before the latest proposal, which carries no legal authority. It came from 18 researchers from seven countries who published a commentary in the journal Nature. They included prominent gene-editing experts Feng Zhang and David Liu of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge...