Leading scientists call for global moratorium on creating ‘CRISPR babies’

Sharon Begley
Sharon Begley chronicles the calls for a moratorium on heritable human genome editing from prominennt members of the scientific community. Begley also notes the absence of notable figures in genome editing, including Jennifer Doudna. In an interview, Doudna said she prefers “’strict regulation that precludes use’” rather than a moratorium, which does not provide a clear pathway to “’possible responsible use.’” Begley dives into this ambiguity around the word moratorium and some scientists’ strong reactions against the word. Many scientists argue both that the distinction is essentially semantic and that an effective moratorium is already in place, while also arguing that a formal moratorium would provide no clear path forward for the prohibited research. Nonetheless, in the article, Observatory Co-Director Ben Hurlbut argues that hedging about the firmness of a prohibition and use of the word moratorium meant that He could plausibly feel that he was complying with existing laws and guidelines.