Germline intervention in the human embryo: German Ethics Council calls for global political debate and international regulation

Published: 29 September 2017

The technical opportunities offered by genome editing raise complex and fundamental ethical questions particularly where they are used to modify the human germline. In recent times, research in this particularly sensitive area has been advanced at a great pace in some countries. As, however, this touches not only on national interests but also on the interests of mankind as a whole, there is a need for a broadly-based discussion and for international regulation.

In its Ad hoc Recommendation, the German Ethics Council mentions some of the numerous, as yet, unanswered questions and possible consequences of systematic genome manipulations in humans and requests that, in parallel to the discursive efforts on the part of the scientific community, political institutions should find ways and initiate processes to discuss the topic in an intensive, differentiated and, above all, global manner with the involvement of all relevant social groups and draw up the necessary regulatory standards as quickly and comprehensively as possible.