Advocacy   |   Policy Updates

Scientific Leaders Call For Global Moratorium on Germline Gene Editing

April 24, 2019

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today, a broad collective of 62 individual scientists, bioethicists, and biotechnology executives, including past-presidents and current board of directors members from ASGCT, across industry and academia called for collaboration on a binding global moratorium on human clinical germline experimentation.

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today, a broad collective of 62 individual scientists, bioethicists, and biotechnology executives, including past-presidents and current board of directors members from ASGCT, across industry and academia called for collaboration on a binding global moratorium on human clinical germline experimentation.

“Although we recognize the great scientific advancement represented by gene editing technologies and their potential value for an improved understanding and possible treatment of human disease, we strongly believe the editing of human embryos that results in births carries serious problems for which there are no scientific, ethical, or societal consensuses,” the letter reads. “As a result, we contend that such human genetic manipulation should be considered unacceptable and support a binding global moratorium until serious scientific, societal, and ethical concerns are fully addressed.”

Read the Full Letter and
List of Signatories

This unique collaboration among academia, bioethicists, and industry also calls for the policies governing germ-line gene editing and any associated enforcement mechanisms to take into account the individual, familial, societal, and species-level rights, needs, interests, and values affected by this rapidly advancing science. It is vital that all major stakeholders, including members of the scientific, medical, patient, caregiver, policy, legal, ethical, and faith communities, determine together whether, and under which conditions, germline gene editing should take place in the years ahead.

The letter expresses that the applications of gene editing methods in somatic cells have tremendous potential to alleviate human diseases and do not raise the same scientific and ethical questions. Although clinical trials are required to demonstrate the safety and efficacies of these approaches, the signees believe that current scientific methodology is sufficient to address these questions and supports moving forward with clinical applications. Existing regulatory bodies are well positioned to oversee the development of somatic gene editing technology following decades of work on preclinical gene editing studies, and clinical trials for gene therapies and gene editing.

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