The Menlo Roundtable

Debates Surrounding Federal Regulation of Germline Editing

The alteration of various traits in humans has been a science fiction dream for over a century.

Films like Gattaca and Elysium have captured the imagination of many. But the future of medicine is already here. What used to be fiction is now close to reality. Since its discovery as a genome cleaving mechanism in the 2010s, CRISPR - CAS 9 has been used for a wide variety of excellent purposes. However, due to the lack of regulation on the matter, it has also been used irresponsibly. It is possible for scientists to cut out or insert a gene of interest with a simple and inexpensive procedure. Concerns about privacy and the ethics of this cutting-edge technology lead us to consider the following question: is current US regulation of germline CRISPR editing effective or should a moratorium be placed on all research in the area in the future? This paper aims to show that a moratorium would not be the most effective solution to the issue at hand, as it would prevent many crucial developments in the field. Instead this paper calls for the government for Independent Review Boards (IRBs) to be established in order to ensure the safety of the research. In addition, the current ban on government-funded embryonic research should be repealed. This would allow the US to keep up with other competing nations in the area of germline editing, while ensuring that the research conducted does not pose a risk to the nation.