News & Opinion | July 17, 2018 9:16 am

UK Ethics Body Approves Genetically Modifying Babies if in Child’s Best Interest

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics says changing the DNA of a human embryo could be "morally permissable."

DNA
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The creation of babies with altered DNA to give them what parents see as the best chances in life has received a cautious green light from a leading U.K. ethics body. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics ruled that changing the DNA of a human embryo could be “morally permissible” if it was in the future child’s interests and did not add to the kinds of inequalities that already divide society, reports The Guardian. The report does not call for a change in UK law to permit genetically altered babies. However, it urges research into the safety and effectiveness of the approach, its societal impact, and a widespread debate of its implications.

“It is our view that genome editing is not morally unacceptable in itself,” said Karen Yeung, chair of the Nuffield working group and professor of law, ethics, and informatics at the University of Birmingham, according to The Guardian. “There is no reason to rule it out in principle.”

The report is already drawing criticism, with one group accusing the authors of opening the door to the unrestricted use of heritable genetic engineering and an age of genetic have and have-nots.