The First Trial of Gene Editing of Babies: Science and Technology Are Never Allowed to Develop Without Control or to Overstep Ethical Bounds

The year 2020 has just arrived, and people are still immersed in the joy of the new year. About two weeks ago, there was a news story that Nanshan People’s Court, Shenzhen delivered its verdict on gene-edited babies on December 30, 2019. The case of gene-edited babies was sensational then. However, the news has not get much attention. He Jiankui, a former associate professor of Southern University of Science and Technology, and two other defendants were found guilty of “illegal medical practices” due to the joint illegal implementation of gene editing of human embryos and reproductive medical activities for the purpose of reproduction. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and two others were also sentenced to fines and prison time. No matter in science and technology or in other fields, all behaviors which are harmful to public safety and against ethics will be severely punished by law! He Jiankui became a prisoner from a respected university professor for his personal fame and wealth, and in fact he deserved it.

 

We can’t help but think back to the uproar that started when the incident broke out about one year ago. On November 26, 2018, it was reported that He Jiankui, a scientist from Shenzhen, announced a pair of gene-editing baby girls were born healthy in China in November, a day before the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing. One of the twins’ genes has been modified to make them naturally resistant to AIDS after birth. This is the world’s first gene-editing babies immunized against AIDS, which also means that China has made a historic breakthrough in the application of gene editing technology in disease prevention.

The news came out, shocked the world, and the public opinion was in a uproar. A large number of scientists from China and many countries around the world have voiced their objections one after another to He Jiankui’s experiment and denounced him. Mr. Hu Jiaqi, a famous Chinese anthropologist, also responded actively. He expounded two important views on this event: first, the sustainable development of “human gene editing” will bring a crisis to mankind. Human genes are the result of hundreds of millions of years of natural evolution, with its rationality. However, with the development of science and technology, human beings can reconstruct their genes in the near future and create “gene-edited man”. Humans reedit the gene without permission, which means new genes are added to the human gene pool after relevant technology is becoming more and more mature. After generations of reproduction, there will be incalculable mutations, and even all mankind will be destroyed.

Second, the ethical issues of “gene-editing babies”. In fact, this gene editing technology was already developed long time ago, but scientists all over the world are unwilling to or dare not use it. In addition to uncertain and unpredictable mutations, ethics is a more important reason. At the time of the incident, the Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission said that the medical ethics committee of Shenzhen HarMoniCare Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which approved the experiment of “gene-editing babies”, had not been put on record as required. At that time, more than 100 Chinese scientists issued a joint statement, saying that the so-called biomedical ethics review of the research was “nothing”.

Mr. Hu Jiaqi said, “for a long time, numb people did not consider the negative effects of science and technology, or doubted the justice of the development. They always move forward and advance science and technology. We don’t have enough confidence that we can really control the development of science and technology in the future.”

Mr. Hu Jiaqi believes that the crazy development of science and technology, with the selfishness and greed of humans, will inevitably lead to more unexpected evil means. If the development is not strictly limited, it will cause chaos in the world, and even push human beings to the abyss of extinction! In order to awaken the public, on November 1, 2019, Mr. Hu Jiaqi founded the Save Human Action Organization (SHAO). SHAO is committed to, in a peaceful manner, call on all countries in the world to act in a unified way and to strictly limit the irrational development of science and technology. Finally, save all mankind and use science and technology for social good.

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