Governance of heritable human gene editing world-wide and beyond

Xue, Yang and Shang, Lijun (2022) Governance of heritable human gene editing world-wide and beyond. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (6739). pp. 1-17. ISSN 1660-4601


To date, the controversy surrounding the unknown risks and consequences of heritable genome editing has grown, with such work raising biosafety and ethical concerns for future gener- ations. However, the current guideline of global governance is limited. In the context of the new framework for the governance of human genome editing developed by the World Health Orga- nization (WHO) committee, this paper presents further analysis by highlighting predicaments of governance on germline engineering that merit the most attention: (1) building a scientific culture informed by a broader set of values and considerations in the internal scientific community at large, such as codes of ethics, and education, in addition to awareness-raising measures; and (2) reflecting on and institutionalizing policies in grassroots practice according to local conditions in external governance, such as the experimentalist governance, which is a multi-layered model of governance that establishes an open-ended framework from the top and offers stakeholders the freedom of discussion. The key to achieving these goals is more democratic deliberation between the public and the inclusive engagement of the global scientific community, which has been extensively used in the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). On a global scale, we believe that practicing heritable human genome editing in accordance with the WHO and BTWC appears to be a good choice.

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