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Chinese scientist He Jiankui

Why doubts about human gene editing serve the greater good of humanity

  • If we forcibly change natural laws, not only does it open the door to a lot of unknown influences, it also places a bet on the future of the whole world
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2018, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 December, 2018, 1:01pm

I am writing in response to your report on the recent bioethics controversy spurred by revelations made at a science conference in Hong Kong (“China says it will punish those involved in gene-edited baby project”, November 29). International experts at the Human Genome Editing summit described claims by mainland Chinese scientist He Jiankui concerning the creation of gene-edited babies as “unexpected and deeply disturbing”.

We are living in an era of rapid technological advancement. Gene editing, or genetic modification, is already happening all around us, though related mostly to food and farm animals. However, when claims are made that a variant of this technology has been implemented on humans – a pair of twins made immune to HIV as a result of genetic engineering – that opens up a whole new universe of ethical conundrums.

What is gene editing? Who’s doing it? And is it right?

The gene-editing of humans is regarded by many as immoral. If we forcibly change natural laws, not only does it open the door to a lot of unknown influences, it also places a bet on the future of the whole world.

The progress of technology is unlimited; however, no one would want a class of superhuman creatures from the world of Marvel Comics to appear in real life. I agree with those questioning the moral value of playing God in this way, especially when the benefits are still open to debate and the risks unmapped. Scientists have to scrutinise the ethical impact of their experiments, though that may mean restricting the development of some scientific research, for the greater good of humanity.

Daisy Lee, Ho Man Tin