Over the last decade, the policy and regulatory trajectory of genomic and reproductive technologies has been a checkered one. Approaches around the world range from constitutional and criminal prohibitions, to statutory intervention, moratoria, or, professional guidance sometimes combined with regulatory oversight. These debates have been reignited following the announcement of the births of the “CRISPR babies” back in November 2018. They raise a range of ethical, legal and social issues that can in turn have an impact on how we choose to regulate and oversee disruptive technologies. In this presentation, I will begin by providing an overview of the current international legal and policy landscape surrounding heritable genome editing. Then, I will present some of the ethical failures or shortcomings of the “CRISPR babies” scandal and the steps that have been taken to further the discussion following this, both in China and internationally. I also discuss the impact of this event for Canada, and conclude by considering questions surrounding the feasibility of moratoria in this context and more broadly, ‘where do we go from here’.
1. Gain a better understanding of the legal and regulatory frameworks surrounding heritable genome editing.
2. Highlight key ethical failures arising in the wake of the “CRISPR babies”.
3. Consider important elements of a responsible translation pathway regarding potential clinical applications of human genome editing.
4. Consider the potential impact of a moratorium on the advancement (or not) of the field.