At the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing held in Hong Kong, an announcement was made that a Chinese researcher allowed the birth of twins from a fertilized egg subjected to genome editing (November 28, 2018). Although the authenticity of the details of the announcement is unclear, we consider this an extremely alarming situation.
When collectively considering various perspectives such as safety, as well as ethical and social concerns based on recent reports and discussions around the world, we believe the clinical application of genome editing that targets humans and is passed on through future generations should be prohibited for now. The present case goes against this line of thought. As far as can be determined from the contents presented at the summit, this case is ethically problematic on many fronts, including the ambiguity of medical objectives, lack of transparency of research programs and mechanisms of ethical review, and insufficient consideration toward the protection of trial subjects.
This kind of unethical behavior is something that absolutely cannot be excused, and for this reason, we state our concerns here.
The Japan Association for Bioethics has worked to establish a setting to discuss genome editing technologies. Moving forward, we hope to prevent unethical behavior as happened in the present case, and in order to ensure the appropriate use of this technology, we will continue our various efforts together with scientists and specialists in related fields, patients, and citizens, such that discussions are held widely throughout society and appropriate regulations are established.
December 9, 2018
Japan Association for Bioethics
Board of Directors