December 3, 2023

Germline modification ‘would violate human dignity’

Enhancing future generations is profoundly dangerous

Three members of the Centre for Genetics and Society, a California-based lobby group, have published a stern critique of germline modification on human rights grounds. Writing in Open Global Rights, Marcy Darnovsky, Leah Lowthrop, and Katie Hasson argue that changing the genome “would violate human dignity, a concept at the core of human rights”.

it’s important to remind ourselves why key human rights documents specifically prohibited these practices, long before they were technically feasible. The medical justifications for human germline modification fall short, and the temptation to “enhance” future generations is profoundly dangerous. Down that road, our scientific achievements would all too likely become not instruments of enlightenment and emancipation, but mechanisms for exacerbating inequality. And our desire to improve the human condition would lead us away from the realization of the human rights that we know are needed for individuals, societies, and humanity to thrive.

The rapid pace of these developments creates an urgent need for the global community—perhaps gathering under UN auspices—to reaffirm existing agreements and clearly prohibit the dangerous and unethical use of reproductive gene-editing.

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genetic engineering
germline therapy