A Chinese scientist's claim to create the world's first genetically modified child is considered to be "irresponsible" by many researchers.…
A Chinese scientist’s claim to create the world’s first genetically modified child is considered to be “irresponsible” by many researchers.
The researcher’s employer, China’s Southern University of Science and Technology, said it did not know about the activities. China’s government ordered a stop for work on Thursday.
The researcher, He Jiankui, said that he had edited the genetic material, or DNA, of two girls who were born recently. He said he had done the redirect to protect the children from infection with HIV, the virus responsible for the disease AIDS. He said the process had “worked safely” and the two girls were “as healthy as any other child”.
There has been no independent confirmation of his work and he did not provide written documentation of his research.
On Wednesday, he defended his work at an international conference in Hong Kong. He also announced a possible second pregnancy with the same process.
Researchers condemn the experiment
Researchers have been quick to condemn the experiments.
David Baltimore is with the California Institute of Technology and a leader of the conference. He received the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1975. He called the experiment “irresponsible.” Baltimore said it did not comply with the guidelines agreed by many researchers before re-editing could be considered.
Jennifer Doudna is a University of California-Berkeley Scientist and one of the inventors of the CRISPR Replication Tool used in the experiment. She called it “really unacceptable”. She told the Associated Press, “I do not think we heard answers. We still need to understand the motivation for this.”
“I feel more disturbed now,” said David Liu from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Broad Institute. He is the inventor of a version of the rescue tool. Liu said that the experiment is an “example of what should not be done with a promising technique”. He said he hopes: “It never happens again.”
In China, deputy science and technology minister Xu Nanping said the experiment “crossed the moral and ethical line followed by the academy and was shocking and unacceptable.”
Why is he in dispute?
In 2017, the United States National Science Academy, Engineering and Medicine, released a report on human redevelopment. The group said that redirection should be used for research only in a laboratory to learn to change embryos.
The academies also said that the measure is not ready for human pregnancies. And if ever allowed, it should be used to treat or prevent serious diseases without better choice.
Federal money can not be used for redevelopment of human embryos in the United States. Other countries also have restrictions.
People who oppose such experiments say that changes in a person’s DNA can change to future generations. They say genetic risks that harm other genes and affect people who did not accept treatment.
Others are afraid that the experiment will lead rich parents to seek genetic enhancement to produce, what is known as “designer babies”.
Is there scope for redialing?
The academies, however, support redecoration to improve food production to feed the world’s growing population.
Researchers use the technology to produce several new types of crops. They include high-fiber wheat, mushrooms that hold their color and very productive tomatoes. They also try to develop corn that withstands dry weather conditions and rice that withstand contamination.
Other researchers hope to use redevelopment to terminate crop diseases such as citrus grains affecting fruits like oranges.
In the United States, a company called Recombinetics appears to raise new types of cows and pigs.
But many governments are still considering how to monitor re-processed foods. It is also unclear whether people will be willing to buy re-prepared foods.
I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Hai Do adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on Associated Press reports. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.
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edit -v. to prepare something by making changes or corrections by mistake
motivation -n. a power or influence that causes someone to do something
disturbed adj. worried and unhappy
follows -v. to act as required