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A group of scientists gather to oppose on the genetic modification of human embryos

On Monday, a group of activists and scientists from the United States gathered for the global ban of the new technology being used for the editing of human embryos genes. The gather up came a day before the international meeting that will occur in Washington on the discussion of the policy issues and ethics that surround the new technology.

The technology involves the editing of specific stretches of the DNA that would ultimately modify the genes of children. Scientists from the Center of Genetics and Friends of the Earth, an activist group, argued in a report that this practice should be stopped before it is used.

Pete Shanks, consulting researcher at the Center for Genetics and Society and author of report, said that the process will not revert once it has started. The technology, known as CRISPR/Cas9, can speed up the treatment of diseases. However, opponents are against genetic modifications as the effect on future generations is still unknown and many parents will want to pay big money for modifying the genes of their kids for athletic ability or greater intelligence.

Scientists have said that altering DNAs of human eggs, sperms or embryos could eliminate several diseases. But they have also predicted that the side effects on future generations will be unknown and the modifications will be passed on to their offspring as well.

Back in March, the use of the germline editing was banned because of fears about eugenics and safety. However, Chinese scientists started experiments on the alteration of human embryos DNA. The news came as an outcry for many scientists, although many defended the Chinese scientists as they were doing tests and experiments on non-viable human embryos only.

An environmental group, Friends of the Earth, recently opposed against genetically modified foods, such as the approved salmon that breeds faster than its natural cousins.

About Helme Dicosta

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