Strongly discourage, even in those countries with lax jurisdictions where it might be permitted, any attempts at germline genome modification for clinical application in humans, while societal, environmental, and ethical implications of such activity are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations. (In countries with a highly developed bioscience capacity, germline genome modification in humans is currently illegal or tightly regulated.) This will enable pathways to responsible uses of this technology, if any, to be identified.In parallel with that statement, a second group of researchers in the field of gene editing called for a complete moratorium on the use of CRISPR for germline genetic engineering. They stated:
In our view, genome editing in human embryos using current technologies could have unpredictable effects on future generations. This makes it dangerous and ethically unacceptable. Such research could be exploited for non-therapeutic modifications. We are concerned that a public outcry about such an ethical breach could hinder a promising area of therapeutic development, namely making genetic changes that cannot be inherited. At this early stage, scientists should agree not to modify the DNA of human reproductive cells. Should a truly compelling case ever arise for the therapeutic benefit of germline modification, we encourage an open discussion around the appropriate course of action.Already, there are published reports of germline modification in monkeys. As for human gene modifications writ large, in 2015, there is the established field of gene therapy, overseen by the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC), and slowly embraced by the FDA. These therapies provide genetic alteration to living persons through their somatic cells, so there is no heritability of the changes. RAC was asked to consider fetal gene therapy protocols in the late 1990's, but concluded that the risk/benefit ratio did not justify approval. Current reproductive medicine offers preimplantation genetic diagnosis to prospective parents seeking to avoid transmitting known genetic diseases, but that technique does not involve genome editing. The speed at which CRISPR-based technologies are entering genetic science guarantees that the debate over controversial applications will continue. Not surprisingly, any proposed CRISPR-based reproductive technologies are likely to encounter much more resistance that many other assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have encountered to date. Will CRISPR-based reproduction elicit the kind of furious legislative responses to the possibility of human cloning that followed the creation of the cloned sheep Dolly in 1997? Since there are no credible reports of use, the public is not confronted with the issue, but the scientific and bioethical communities can see ahead, and are trying a proactive rather than reactive approach to getting a public debate started.