Ethical_IRR_Zack_CB.docx - The Ethics of Germline Gene...

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The Ethics of Germline Gene Editing Should American parents be allowed to genetically ‘design’ their babies through germline gene editing? Word Count: 1320
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2 Should American parents be allowed to genetically ‘design’ their babies through germline gene editing? When the 1998 film GATTACA 1 was released, most Americans believed the idea of ‘designer babies’ to be simply science fiction until now. The newly discovered CRISPR/Cas9’s gene editing capabilities allow for reconstruction of the human genome 2 and germline, or the line of DNA passed through subsequent generations. 3 As a result, the offspring created are ‘designer babies’, a product of genetic engineering. 4 A ‘designer baby’ differs from a ‘test-tube baby’ or ‘petri dish baby’ as the former is made through gene editing and the latter are fertilized in vitro (IVF). 5 CRISPR/Cas9 technology has only recently undergone thorough experimentation. In April of 2015, a research team in China experimented on human embryos with the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in order to edit out a blood disorder from the DNA, but only a small number of the embryos survived and some developed unintended mutations. 6 In February of 2016, the Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority (HFEA) approved a scientist’s request to use CRISPR/Cas9 to replicate the Chinese team’s experiment, but instated a fourteen day limit on the length of time the embryos were permitted to survive. 7 With research in the field of germline gene editing growing, the Pew Research Center (a nonpartisan organization specializing in demographic research) found that 28% of U.S adults find the practice morally acceptable; 30% find it morally 1 GATTACA , directed by Andrew Niccol, performed by Ethan Hawke, (1998; United States: Continental film), DVD. 2 How CRISPR lets us edit our DNA , performed by Jennifer Doudna, TedGlobalLondon, September 2015. ?language=en#t-131298. 3 Nick Stockton, "America Needs to Figure Out the Ethics of Gene Editing Now," Wired, April 23, 2015, . 4 Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. S.v. "designer baby," 5 Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, S.v. "test-tube baby," 6 See note 3 above. 7 Alice Park, "UK Approves First Studies Using New Gene Editing Technique," Time, February 1, 2016, .
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3 Should American parents be allowed to genetically ‘design’ their babies through germline gene editing? unacceptable; and 40% are unsure. 8 The ethical perspectives surrounding germline gene editing need to be addressed as they negatively affect American parents’ views on the procedure.
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