Implications of powerful DNA-altering technology are too important to be left to scientists and politicians: researchers

Why plumbers and teachers should have a say on designer babies and genetically enhanced potatoes
Citizen assemblies are ideal for probing the complexities of genome editing. Credit: Alice Mollon

Designer babies, mutant mozzies and frankenfoods: These are the images that often spring to mind when people think of genome editing.


The practice, which alters an organism’s DNA in ways that could be inherited by subsequent generations, is both more complex and less dramatic than the popular tropes suggest.

However, its implications are so profound that a growing group of experts believe it is too important a matter to be left only to scientists, doctors and politicians.

Writing in the journal Science, 25 leading researchers from across the globe call for the creation of national and global citizens’ assemblies made up of lay-people to be tasked with considering the ethical and social impacts of this emerging science.

The authors come from a broad range of disciplines, including governance, law, bioethics, and genetics.

The immense potential,

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