Designer Genes: Ethical Implications of Altering the Human Genome

|Designer Genes: Ethical Implications of Altering the Human Genome
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In November, 2018 at the Second World Summit on Human Genome Editing, the birth of the first “CRISPR” babies (a pair of twins) was announced in Hong Kong. A “rogue” Chinese scientist, acting against guidelines created by national and international scientific societies, reported that he had used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to edit the DNA in human embryos and that the mother recently gave birth to two apparently healthy babies. The objective was to eliminate a gene that is believed to lead to HIV susceptibility. Scientists and politicians in many countries (including the US and China) were surprised and outraged. Some of them are calling for increased regulation of human genetic research by government or scientific societies. Realistically, there is no way to stop the editing of human genes.

At this event, co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Ethical Society, we will discuss ethical, social, and economic implications of human genetic alteration, and the potential benefits of curing diseases and correcting or eliminating birth defects. We will also consider the potential for creating custom-designed babies with enhanced physical or mental abilities, and how these presumed benefits might be prioritized.

Sandy Catz and Hugh Taft-Morales will be co-hosts. After a brief introduction to gene editing technology we will break into small discussion groups. Refreshments will be served. For more details and to RSVP, please visit either the PES Meetup website (https://www.meetup.com/phillyethics/) or the Thinking Society Meetup website (https://www.meetup.com/thinkingsociety/).