Moratorium for germline editing splits biologists

Jon Cohen
Jon Cohen, writing for Science, describes the divisiveness of Lander et al.’s call for a moratorium within the biological research community. While many threw their support behind the call, Nobel Laureate and Asilomar organizer David Baltimore was a notable exception. Baltimore, who had coauthored with Paul Berg a piece calling for a voluntary moratorium patterned on Asilomar’s example several years earlier, called the prospect of a ban “draconian.” Molecular geneticist Helen O’Neill, another detractor, noted that a de facto global ban on heritable genome editing already existed via the national bans in place in many countries. In response, Lander argued that “the m-word” would nonetheless compel a discussion about international governance.