Experts warn home 'gene editing' kits pose risk to society

Signal of change / Experts warn home 'gene editing' kits pose risk to society

By Kirsten Zeller / 10 Oct 2016

"The simplicity and low cost of tools to edit the genetic code means “garage scientists” - or amateurs with some skill - can now perform their own experiments, posing a potential risk from the release of GM bugs, a new reportsuggests.

In a report published on Friday, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said that the rise in precision “gene editing” tools had revolutionised biomedical research over the past ten years and could potentially have a dramatic impact on human society.

But it found that the materials needed to perform basic experiments were available to enthusiasts outside academia and established labs. This year, one firm began to sell a kit for £100 to DIY biology interest groups that allowed them to render the common soil microbe, E coli, resistant to the antibiotic streptomycin.

The report goes on to say that genetic technology has become so powerful that nations need to decide whether or not doctors should ever be allowed to modify the human species.

While the creation of GM humans is not on the horizon yet, the risks and benefits of modifying a person’s genome - and having those changes pass on to future generations - are so complex that they demand urgent ethical scrutiny, the review found."



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