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.
UNESCO reacted to developments in genomics by releasing this declaration, which draws on the tradition of the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and is similarly framed in terms of human dignity, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. The declaration asserts that the human genome is the common heritage of humanity and establishes individual rights regarding the genome, including nondiscrimination, informed consent, and confidentiality. It identifies specific applications of genomics, namely human cloning, as contrary to human dignity.
A brief Nature news item documents the adoption of a voluntary five-year moratorium on human cloning by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The moratorium made a point of distinguishing human cloning intended for implantation from human cloning for research in vitro prohibiting the former while permitting the latter. Some scientists argued that this move was intended to assuage public concerns about human cloning and preempt legislative bans that could affect in vitro research, claims that FASEB officials denied.