In an effort to get critical parts of the US government funded, the House of Representatives is going to vote today on a bill, H.R. 265, that would pay for health inspectors, food stamps, and drug approvals, according to Politico.
It would also would renew the prohibition on genetically modified human beings in the US.
Baby ban: Since 2015, the US has adopted language in funding bills that prohibits the Food and Drug Administration from considering any application to create IVF children from embryos that have been genetically modified. But it has to be renewed every year.
What’s prohibited: The ban covers gene-edited babies like those allegedly born recently in China, who had a gene removed to make them resistant to HIV. It also blocks a technique, known as “three-parent babies,” that is being used to try and prevent mitochondrial disease.
The rule is one reason such efforts are occuring first in other countries, including China and Ukraine, not in the US.
Strongly opposed: The FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, has left no doubt he’s deeply opposed to softening the CRISPR baby rule. In November he tweeted:
Certain uses of science should be judged intolerable, and cause scientists to be cast out. The use of CRISPR to edit human embryos or germ line cells should fall into that bucket. Anything less puts the science and the entire scientific enterprise at risk.
Lacks subtlety: By blocking any-and-all DNA changes to an embryo, I. Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Law School, says American legislation has taken a "meat axe" approach when what's needed is a "scalpel" to separate good uses of technology from bad. Congress is again missing a chance “to craft a better, more subtle policy” that could allow real public debate on new reproductive technologies, Cohen says.
Biotechnology and health
The Biggest Questions: What is death?
New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.
Some deaf children in China can hear after gene therapy treatment
After deafness treatment, Yiyi can hear her mother and dance to the music. But why is it so noisy at night?
Scientists just drafted an incredibly detailed map of the human brain
A massive suite of papers offers a high-res view of the human and non-human primate brain.
Three people were gene-edited in an effort to cure their HIV. The result is unknown.
CRISPR is being used in an experimental effort to eliminate the virus that causes AIDS.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.