New biological techniques create the potential for catastrophe. The self-control of scientists is not enough to protect us, or to secure public trust. National governments must step in. Filippa Lentzos, Koos van der Bruggen and Kathryn Nixdorff argue that the US should lead the way, at the Guardian:
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There is a growing convergence of concern about new technologies in the life sciences that are raising significant societal, ethical, environmental and security risks. Global public engagement must be a priority for deliberation about these technologies and for developing a set of common red lines.
The genome-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 is the latest in a series of technologies to hit the headlines. This week Chinese scientists used the technology to genetically modify human embryos – the news coming less than a month after a prominent group of scientists had called for a moratorium on the technology. The use of ‘gene drives’ to alter the genetic composition of whole populations of insects and other life forms has also raised significant concern.