From science fiction to fiction: the ability to choose your genes and your children’s genes is on the horizon and it has raised some serious concerns. Burgeoning advancements in genetic science have sparked widespread discussions. The UN’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) has issued a report that focuses on the moral and practical implications of gene manipulation. The benefits of genomic “editing” are well known. Today’s scientists can now edit a person’s genome to treat or even cure illnesses. But many scientist, government ministers, and lawyers agree that this raises serious moral questions, including concerns about scientists “play[ing] god.” But morality is not the only concern. Genetic editing, particularly when applied to the germline, can change inherited traits, leading to unforeseeable consequences for future generations.
In addition, the IBC is concerned with direct-to-consumer genetic test kits. These kits come at a price, informed consent. Those who take the test, and learn about their own DNA often lack the medical and genetic counseling to react knowledgeably to the test results. The IBC report has called for a moratorium until proper public debate can consider the risks and the benefits of genomic editing. Nevertheless, the line between science fiction and science is wearing thin.