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expert reaction to Nuffield Council on Bioethics new report into genome editing in human reproduction

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a new report, ‘Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues’.

A briefing accompanied this roundup.


Beth Thompson, Head of UK/EU Policy at Wellcome, said:

“Genome editing has huge potential to improve human health, and having clarity on how it could work – both technically and ethically – is essential if it is to benefit patients in the future. The Nuffield Report takes steps to address important ethical questions, and makes clear that, if certain conditions are met, heritable genome editing could be ethically acceptable. Science can only progress with the confidence of society and we will continue to support research that addresses both the scientific and societal challenges raised by genome editing, and encourage an open and inclusive debate on how it should be used.”


Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust, said:

“We welcome this report’s conclusion that the clinical use of genome editing to make heritable changes may be ethically acceptable, if certain stipulations are met. We also agree with the report’s call for thoroughgoing public debate about this technology, and with its identification of the HFEA as the best placed competent national body to regulate the future use of genome editing in assisted conception.

“In line with the report’s recommendations, our charity will be promoting wide-ranging public debate about genome editing in coming months. Our upcoming events include a December 2018 conference exploring whether we should amend the UK’s fertility and embryo research laws, in light of the latest technological possibilities and developments in society.”


Prof Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, said:

“The UK conducts word-leading research in genome editing, supported by our robust ethical and regulatory framework. This is already a rigorously-monitored area of research but it is vital that we continue to assess safety and feasibility before gene edits that can be passed across generations are permitted in people.

“We strongly support the report’s call for a public dialogue on this issue, as well as further research into the ethical and social impacts, to ensure this technology continues to be used only in an ethical and legally rigorous way.”




Declared interests

None received


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