By Grazie Christie

When a Chinese scientist recently claimed to have altered the genetic makeup of two separate embryos and implanted them in a woman, resulting in the birth of twin girls, the objections from the international scientific community were swift and powerful.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins condemned the act in a statement. “This work represents a deeply disturbing willingness by Dr. He Jiankui and his team to flout international ethical norms,” he said. “Lest there be any doubt, and as we have stated previously, NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.”

Scientific ethics have long forbidden the editing out of so-called “undesirable” parts of a person’s genetic code. To his credit, Collins boldly reinforced the opinion that Jiankui not only crossed a line, but also recklessly jeopardized the mother and two babies’ health and safety. This was the swift reaction among many experts to Jiankui’s unethical research and methods.

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