It's a hugely controversial idea, but genetically edited "designer babies" could be on the horizon, after a science council concluded that DNA editing human embryos could be "morally permissible".
In other words, the report suggests that human genome editing for the objective of genetic improvement, and not only the avoidance of disease, may be morally acceptable, an affirmation that can not help raising the specter of eugenics and designer babies.
Critics of genome editing also have said that the ethics body's report opens the door for "designer babies", where parents alter the embryos DNA simply to create children with traits they deem desirable. The development of advanced genome technology has given scientists the ability to rewrite the DNA code in eggs, sperm, and embryos. The council has not recommended changing the law yet, and has only called for more research into the safety and effectiveness of genome editing, its impact on society, and a widespread debate on its implications, The Guardian reported.
For nearly two years, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has run an independent inquiry on "heritable genome editing", which is when scientists modify eggs, sperm, or embryos that will then develop to become a person.
The report does not list any specific uses for DNA modification but instead says it must follow certain principles to be considered ethical.
So, does this mean it's legal in the UK?
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But David King of the United Kingdom campaign group Human Genetics Alert said the report's conclusions were a sign of approval of "designer babies" and were "an absolute disgrace".
Nevertheless, the science behind it is far from ideal, and in some cases has proven unsafe and problematic.
That is, the process of "editing genes" damages healthy cells. Currently, the report is not asking for the law to be changed.
"It is our view that genome editing is not morally unacceptable in itself", said Karen Yeung, who headed the inquiry committee.
Genetically modifying an embryo's DNA to prevent heritable diseases could be "ethically acceptable", a landmark report has claimed. "However, if the technology develops it has potential to become an alternative strategy available to parents for achieving a wider range of goals".
The field has always been surrounded by controversy, with critics fearing that gene-editing could be used to create a generation of so-called "designer" babies.