Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Human Germline Genetic Modification (HGGM)

A new report from the Johns Hopkins Genetics and Public Policy Center says that modification of the Human Germline is closer than we think. Here are the first two paragraphs from the Executive Summary.
Germline genetic modification is possible in animals, but not yet in humans. If certain technical obstacles were overcome, human germline genetic modification (HGGM) could allow human beings to create permanent heritable genetic changes in their descendants by changing the genetic makeup of human eggs or sperm, or human embryos at the earliest stages.

For many decades, the technical barriers to HGGM have seemed insurmountable. Today, however, advances in human reproductive technologies, stem cell science, and animal genetic modification have brought the possibility of HGGM much nearer than it has been before. The Genetics and Public Policy Center believes it is time for renewed consideration of this controversial subject. This report, Human Germline Genetic Modification: Issues and Options for Policymakers, analyzes the scientific, legal, regulatory, ethical, moral, and societal issues raised by genetic modification of the human germline, provides data about the American public’s views about HGGM, and explores possible policy approaches in this area.

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