Report of the IBC on updating its reflection on the Human Genome and Human Rights

International Bioethics Committee
Following a UNESCO meeting in Paris, the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) released this report, which clarifies its stance on recent research related to human genomics. It includes special considerations for heritable genome editing and specifically calls for a moratorium on such applications. The reasoning the IBC provides is that such interventions raise “serious concerns,” including threats to human dignity and the prospect of eugenic applications. The report references UNESCO’s earlier Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which emphasizes that the human genome is the “heritage of humanity” collectively and to argue that, therefore, “the importance of a discussion involving scientists and bioethicists to reflect at the global level on the consequences of new technologies relating to the human genome is crucial.” This report was released shortly after the publication of CRISPR experiments on non-viable human embryos and anticipated later calls for moratoria on heritable genome editing that would emerge in the wake of the “CRISPR babies” scandal a few years later.