Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues

Nuffield Council on Bioethics
The UK’s independent Nuffield Council on Bioethics prepared this 2018 report in response to recent developments in biological genome editing techniques. The report provides background, speculation on future directions of the technology, an analysis of a range of ethical considerations, and recommendations for governance of human germline genome editing. The report broadly determines that the important ethical considerations limit the range of applications for germline editing. Their first suggestion for governance is that heritable genome editing interventions should not be made legal in the UK without “sufficient opportunity for a broad and inclusive societal debate,” which “should be encouraged and supported without delay.” However, their other recommendations include calling for scientific research “to establish the clinical safety and feasibility of genome editing” and providing a list of criteria that could make applications of heritable genome editing permissible. In short, they set societal deliberation as a prerequisite for a pathway to deployment while also laying out a possible roadmap for that deployment. They also recommend building in regulatory mechanisms capable of putting a stop to human germline editing through the imposition of a moratorium.