By Michael Cook
A number of groups from around the world have joined forces to create an International Coalition to Stop Designer Babies. They are lobbying against human genome editing and have issued a demand for an international convention to ban human genome editing and human cloning:
We wish to express our great concern about and opposition to those scientific academies and others presently seeking to legalise HGM. HGM is medically unnecessary. Pursuing it is an act of extreme scientific irresponsibility, likely to result in enormously harmful consequences for individuals and for global society as a whole.
Human cloning and HGM were banned in international human rights treaties and in many countries in the 1990s, primarily because of the terrible history of eugenics. We support this deeply-felt and principled international ethical consensus. New technical abilities to conduct HGM do not change that consensus.
Designing children’s genes runs counter to accepted basic visions of diversity and the inclusion and equality of all vulnerable individuals and minority groups. Rather than competitively genetically ‘enhancing’ children, we want to encourage a world that celebrates and accepts all individuals and groups of people and that does not rely on oppressive and biological determinist prejudices about what constitutes a ‘better’ human being. Allowing HGM would exacerbate existing social inequalities. It would be an act of scientific irresponsibility and, in a time of rising neo-fascism, of political irresponsibility as well.
Like human cloning, HGM is referred to in international declarations and treaties as contrary to human dignity, because it reduces human beings, to the status of designed and optimised consumer objects.
There are a range of robust alternative methods for avoiding genetic conditions, so the only advantage of HGM would be for ensuring 100% genetic parenthood of the child. It can never be ethical to submit a child to the severe health risks of genetic modification for this purpose.
We are also concerned about the exploitation of and health risks to those sourced for eggs for research to make HGM possible.
We call upon the UN to create an international convention to permanently ban HGM and human cloning. For the sake of our children and of our common humanity we must not cross this ethical line.
Editor’s note. This appeared at BioEdge and is reposted with permission.