Our Conversation of Genetic Modification must be Evidence-Based

Our Conversation of Genetic Modification must be Evidence-Based

150 150 Jamie Metzl

Marcy Darnovsky’s call to arms against “radical biological procedures,” namely mitochondrial transfer from the eggs of a woman with healthy mitochondria to replace the diseased mitochondria of an aspiring mother, in her New York Times editorial today [linked here] goes too far.

Of course we need to make sure that all genetic manipulations pass scientific, ethical, and social policy bars. But we’ve been having this debate regarding mitochondrial transfer for some time and the science seems convincing. The GMO debate has been compromised by emotional responses by some people unwilling to look honestly at the data. We need to set a very high bar for our standards re human genetic engineering, but that bar should be evidence-based.

I attended the excellent debate on human genetic manipulation hosted by Intelligence Squared in New York last year and was entirely convinced by the arguments made by the proponents of mitochondrial transfer treatment. Have a look at the link to that debate [linked here] and let me know what you think.

As I’ve mentioned in my other posts and articles, our species will be genetically modifying ourselves in the future (see my article “Brave New World War” linked here). 

The issue for us is whether we can have a meaningful enough national and global dialogue and set some basic rules of the road before this process gets out of hand.

Blanket opposition, for reasons outlined in my article, will not work. It’s already too late for that.

But if we don’t expand and explore our thinking about our species’ genetic future, we will put ourselves in grave danger.