Science and technology have achieved a new milestone with the creation of the powerful gene editing technique Crispr. And now, the inevitable has happened, when this very technology has been used to alter the genetics of human beings.
A scientist in China has announced that he has created the world’s first genetically edited twin girls, who were born in November 2018. The researcher altered a gene in the embryos, before having them implanted in the mother’s womb. This was done to make the babies resistant to infection with H.I.V.
World over, scientists and researchers have voiced their distress at such a feat being achieved. Even when the technique had been developed, apprehension about its ultimate usage on human beings was a scary notion.
Scientists fear that in the future, instead of being used to prevent medical conditions with serious consequences, these techniques can be used to edit human traits, and that can be a grave concern.
While those possibilities seem far in the future, another concern is the effect of gene alteration on other untouched genes in the body and hence the long-term safety of methods used to perform these interventions.
The UN, other world organisations and States need to bar such instances from future reoccurrences. Stringent laws need to be passed. For e.g., US already deems it illegal whereas countries like China, do not have any such laws.
A cohesive decision for the betterment of humanity, sanctity of natural processes like reproduction, genetic legacies and human phycology, needs to be taken.
Hampering the law of nature, may boomerang at some point of time and in a big way.