We do not know what the consequences will be for future generations – and it will be too late to reverse
For the first time Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has granted researchers permission to use a new “gene editing” technique called Crispr/Cas9 to modify human embryos. This is despite a global summit held last December by the National Academies of Science in Washington which warned that, when it comes to this powerful new technique, no nation should go it alone. Other countries such as the United States are just as advanced as Britain in gene editing – indeed, the techniques authorised by HFEA were partly developed in America. But these nations are, rightly, being more cautious in using it.
Like many powerful new technologies, gene editing holds potential for great benefit and great harm.