Tag Archives: public

The Rockefeller University Hosts Panel on Human Genome Editing – American Council on Science and Health

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 10:49 am

Human genome editing, like self-driving cars or drone delivery, isbecoming apart of our everyday reality faster than we realize it.

Apanel discussion held at The Rockefeller University entitled “The Future of Gene Editing: A multi-disciplinary panel discussion” broughttogether four expertswho tackle the challenges of human gene-editing from different approaches and perspectives, based on their individual focuses and specialties. Why does this particular area of science need so much conversation?

There are significant concerns, to be sure, especially about unintended consequences. People are particularly nervous about gene drive technology and the release of altered species into the environment. Fears include these altered species entering the food chain, causing the extinction of their or another species and the creating of organisms that we never thought possible, if mutations were to occur, such as super bugs.

Somewhere in the middle of these extremes liesan incredibly difficult, emotional, human conversation that needs to draw lines in new territory where we are not comfortable and have had no practice finding boundaries.

Jamie Metzl(Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council) introduced the subject with the perspective thatgene editing is the single most important topic that should be discussed at this moment in time. Why? Because, as Metzl said, “this is the time when our species took control of our evolutionary process.” Moreover, there is no clear answer as to where lines should be drawn between scientific progress and going too far.

One option would be to throw up our hands and let people do what they want – why restrict science? But, the technology behind CRISPR can be done by almost anyone with a pipette, so, wemustdefine therules of engagement. But, stifling all progress because we are scared of the unknown is also not the best answer.

Metzlstarted with a comparison between two people who talked abouttraveling to the Moon – Jules Verne, who wrote: “From the Earth to the Moon” in 1865 and JFK whospoke about goingto the moon just seven years before Apollo 11.Metzl’s point is that, when it comes to human gene-editing,we are in 1962, not 1865,and we need to think about itin the present, not as a hypothetical that may happen at some point in the future. As Metzlsays, this is not a discussionabout science, but, a”science-based conversation about the future of our species.”

The other panel participants wereRoberto Barbero (the Assistant Director of Biological Innovation, White House Office OfScienceAnd TechnologyPolicy), S. Matthew Liao(Director, Center for BioethicsNYU) and Marnie Gelbart (Director of Programs, Personal Genetics Education Project, Harvard University.)

An ongoing challenge in science communication is in engaginga public that neither truly understands nortrustsscience. Marnie Gelbartraised the issue ofhow can we get everyone to the table forthis conversation? People have concerns that theirgenetic informationmaybe used against them. Also, like most health care advances, access is a concern; gene editing will probably be available to the people who can pay for it – where does that leave everyone else?

For comparison, we can look at the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – a far less complicated and emotionalissue than human gene-editing. GMOsare the scientific issue with the widest gap in understanding between scientists and the public, with 88% of scientists reporting that GMOsare safe to eat, as compared to just 37% of the public. Scientists understand the biology behind the creation of GMOs, but, have had a difficult time explaining it to the public. Lacking that understanding leaves a lot of spacefor fear and uncertainty.

If we cannot successfully communicate aboutGMOs, it seems unlikely that gene editing is going to be conveyed correctly. As science communicators, we certainly have our work cut out for us.

MatthewLiao took a more philosphicaltack- how willwe decide which traits to alter? He presented fascinating approachesthat can be used in such decision making that will certainly be the topic of futurearticles. In short, he tackles this question from a perspective of human rights – and works on the assumption that every person has equal moral status, regardless of our differences. Further, he focuses on distilling down the minimum framework of what makes a human capable of pursuing a good life. And, this is where his work can gettricky because two people can easily disagree on what those traits are creating A LOT of gray area in the middle. But, at some point, we are going to have to decide on what type of human we are comfortable creating while realizing that diversity is the greatest strength of any species.And, as most of us are probablynot comfortable making those decisions, it is the work of people like Matthew that will come to the forefront.

Overall, the panel discussion and, in particular, the audience’s participation,raised many good questions that need to be asked and addressed.The last words of JFK’s speech in 1962are as applicable to gene editing as they were at that time to space travel.

“Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

See the rest here:
The Rockefeller University Hosts Panel on Human Genome Editing – American Council on Science and Health

Posted in Genome | Comments Off on The Rockefeller University Hosts Panel on Human Genome Editing – American Council on Science and Health

The great Lotto ‘cover-up’: Gambling watchdog redacts details on rapist’s dodgy jackpot – Mirror.co.uk

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:46 am

The gambling watchdog may have carried out a probe into how a rapist tricked his way to a lottery jackpot, but it seems they are not prepared to share the results with the public.

And they were accused of staging a cover-up over Edward Putmans 2.5million payout which he obtained with a dodgy ticket and alleged insider help.

Of the 270-page Gambling Commission report obtained by the Mirror, 195 are blacked out either in part or fully that is 72%. Another 79 pages have been removed from the dossier entirely.

Among the questions left unanswered were whether Camelot knew of the friendship between alleged inside man Giles Knibbs and 51-year-old Putman and what was the rapists side of the story.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson MP blasted the watchdog for denying the public details behind the 2009 win.

He said: It seems the Great Lotto Robbery is in danger of turning into the Great Lotto Cover-up.

Whilst the Gambling Commission have taken action against Camelot for its failure, the public will rightly want to see further action taken by authorities in order to recoup the money fraudulently taken.

To maintain public confidence in the integrity of the lottery, we need full disclosure of facts, the sequence of events and the failures to make sure something like this can never happen again. Pages of redacted evidence are not good enough.

The Gambling Commission, which had ruled it was more likely than not Putmans jackpot was paid out of a dodgy ticket, said: We believe the public interest does favour the disclosure of certain parts of the information.

There is, however, still material which remains exempt where the public interest balance favours maintaining the exemption and withholding information.

But Campaign for Freedom of Information director Maurice Frankel branded the withholding questionable.

The report did reveal alarm bells should have been ringing at Lottery HQ from the day Putman made his claim. He rang the lottery claimline bosses 10 days before the 180-day deadline.

Putman said his ticket had been damaged but had enough information about where the winning line was bought and was paid a week later.

It is feared he had the help of Camelot IT specialist Knibbs, who worked in the fraud detection department.

The Commission report said: The circumstances of the claim made it an exceptional onewhich should have caused concern.

Video Unavailable

Click to play Tap to play

Play now

Watch this video again

Video will play in

And it remained troubled as to why the prize was paid out in all the circumstances. If Camelots inadequate investigation been done properly, there was a real possibility the fraud would have been spotted.

The operator was fined 3million last year over the scandal.

Police looked into the alleged fraud when it came to light in 2015 and arrested Putman, of Kings Langley, Herts.

He was told four months later he would face no further action and the file has now remained closed for more than a year.

Camelot said: We accept that, at the time of the alleged incident, there were weaknesses in some of the processes we had in place to prevent a potentially fraudulent claim of the very specific kind seen in this case. And, as we said at the time, were very sorry for that.

Running The National Lottery with the utmost integrity has always been our priority.

“Having investigated the circumstances of the alleged incident and having reviewed and strengthened the systems we have in place to prevent potential fraud, we are completely confident that the alleged fraud could only have been carried out under a unique set of circumstances and would certainly not be possible today.

Read more:

The great Lotto ‘cover-up’: Gambling watchdog redacts details on rapist’s dodgy jackpot – Mirror.co.uk

Posted in Gambling | Comments Off on The great Lotto ‘cover-up’: Gambling watchdog redacts details on rapist’s dodgy jackpot – Mirror.co.uk

11 Times Barack Obama Abused Press Freedom – Breitbart News

Posted: at 4:07 am

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Perhaps the mainstream media Brahmins have short memories or selective memories. Because when President Barack Obama took direct aim at the media and press freedom, few complained. And when they did, the media soon went back to giving him fawning coverage.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Here are 11 moments Obama abused the press:

1. Campaign plane hijacking journalists. In 2008, the Obama campaign flew 25 members of the media to Chicago without telling them then-Sen. Obama was not, in fact, on board. CNN reported: [T]he press was essentially held hostage with no candidate and no choice but to fly to Chicago on a chartered plane.

2. Closing White House events to all but the official photographer. Obama barred the media from events including, ironically, an award ceremony where he was recognized for transparency and often restricted photographers access, only releasing images taken bythe official White House photographer.

3. Trying to shut out Fox News. The Obama administration targeted Fox News for isolation and marginalization, arguing that it was not a legitimate news organization but the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. That served as a warning to other potentially critical outlets.

4. Stonewalling FOIA requests. The Obama administration set a record for failing to provide information requested by the press and the public under the Freedom of Information Act. The low point was Hillary Clintons email scandal, where tens of thousands of emails were hidden on a private server and deleted.

5. Prosecuting journalists and their sources. The Obama administration pursued Fox News reporter James Rosens private emails then misled Congress about it. CNNs Jake Tapper to his credit pointed out that Obama had used the Espionage Act against leakers more than all of his predecessors combined.

6. Wiretapping the Associated Press.After the Obama administrations snooping on the AP was exposed in 2013, a senior NBC correspondent excused President Obamaon the grounds that he would not have been nasty enough to alienate one of the presidents most important constituencies, the press.

7. Refusing to hold press conferences.For long stretches of his presidency, Obama refused to hold press conferencesat all, going 10 months without a formal press conference in a critical stretch from 2009 to 2010. He heeled the lowest average annual number of press conferences of any president since Ronald Reagan.

8. Filibustering at press conferences. When Obama did, finally, hold press conference, he often limited the number of questions by delivering long, rambling, often condescending answers. He wastes reporters time by refraining from answering questions with any candor, Jack Shafer complainedin Politico in 2016.

9. Attacking tough questions. When a Major Garrett of CBS actually asked a tough question about why the administration seemed not to be trying hard to free Americans held by Iran, includingWashington Post journalist Jason Rezaian Obama scolded him: Major, thats nonsense, and you should know better.

10. Appearing on fringe outlets. While media elitesgripe about conservative journalists being given a chance, Obama often restricted his appearances to fringe media:Inside Edition; Funny or Dies Between Two Ferns (which was then nominated for an Emmy); YouTube stars; anda radio show called Pimp with a Limp.

11. Iran deal echo chamber.The Obama administrationcreated fake news to support the Iran deal, setting up what it later boasted was an echo chamber of experts who would comment in the media to support the White House narrative on the negotiations. Meanwhile, key details were hidden from the public.

Through it all, President Obama regarded himself as a champion of press freedom, having run the most transparent administration ever.

Many mainstream media journalists ignoredthe Obama administrations abuses. A fewspoke out against them. But mostof them continued to paint him in glowing terms, regardless.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the most influential people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

See the original post here:

11 Times Barack Obama Abused Press Freedom – Breitbart News

Posted in Freedom | Comments Off on 11 Times Barack Obama Abused Press Freedom – Breitbart News

Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over missing public records – TBO.com

Posted: at 3:56 am

TAMPA With a criminal investigation hanging over him, former Public Transportation Commission chief Kyle Cockream repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment during a deposition Monday into whether public records were deleted from agency cell phones.

A judge ordered Cockream to appear at the deposition as part of a public records lawsuit filed against the agency that regulates for-hire transportation in Hillsborough County. He turned up, but on advice from his attorney Michael Carey, refused to answer questions from Andrea Mogensen, a Sarasota lawyer who sued the PTC to obtain copies of text messages that Cockream sent to owners of taxicab and limousine-rental firms.

“He pled the Fifth to basically every question that I asked,” Mogensen said. “Obviously that’s very disappointing. Our objective is to recover the public records.”

The Fifth Amendment privilege allows a witness to decline to answer questions if the answers might incriminate him. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened a criminal investigation into whether PTC officials deliberately deleted public records, a misdemeanor under state law.

A forensic investigator hired to extract text messages for the public records lawsuit found that seven agency phones and Cockream’s personal cell phone were reset on Oct. 8, a process that wipes them clean. A PTC invoice shows that the agency on Oct. 12 paid $2,994 to Valrico tech firm Data Specialist Group for work they did on the phones that was detailed as “Mobile device data recovery.”

Cockream, who stepped down as executive director in December, could not be reached for comment. In a recent hearing, his attorney said Cockream was not trying to hide records but hired the tech firm to back up the data on the phones.

The mising data may shed light on a controversial period during which the PTC was accused of colluding with the cab industry against the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft.

Contact Christopher O’Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

Read more:
Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over missing public records – TBO.com

Posted in Fifth Amendment | Comments Off on Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over missing public records – TBO.com

Polish Second World War Museum Director Vows to Fight … – Newsweek

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 12:46 am

The director of a major new war museum in Poland has vowed to fight against government censorship and try to bring his collection to the public.

The Museum of the Second World War in Gdask is almost ready to open after eight years of preparation.

But a bitter legal battle has delayed its launch: the government has sought to gain control over the institution, which the ruling Law and Justice party fears will present an insufficiently nationalist view of Polands wartime experience.

Try Newsweek for only $1.25 per week

Writing in the design journal Disegno, the museums director Pawe Machcewicz said a final decision is due on the dispute in March or April. He said that before that, we will feverishly attempt to use this time to open the museum to the public before it is too late.

Machcewicz and his team want the museum to focuson the everyday experiences of millions of ordinary people, with a permanent collection centered around approximately 2,000 historical artefacts, many of them family relics donated by individuals.

But the government, he said, condemned our museum as too pacifistic, humanistic, universal, multinational, and not sufficiently Polish.

While the museum aims to make the Polish history a part of the European and world history, the government wants it instead to focus on presenting exclusively Polish sufferings and heroism, Machcewicz said.

In order to get its way, the government wants to merge the museum with an as-yet unbuilt institution, the Museum of Westerplatte and the War of 1939, a plan first announced in 2015.

This move would allow the government to appoint a new director, and gain influence over the tone and direction of the new, merged museum. But the museum has challenged the plan in the courts. Machcewicz said that the court had suspended progress on the merger. One ruling in the Supreme Administrative Court in January found in favor of the government. But the final decision is expected in the coming weeks.

Plans for the Museum of the Second World War were first announced in 2007 under the government of former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, now the President of the European Council.

The Second World War was different from all earlier conflicts because it touched civilian populations the most, Machcewicz said, As we developed the main concepts for the museum, we decided that the human dimension of the conflict is the most important to us.

View post:
Polish Second World War Museum Director Vows to Fight … – Newsweek

Posted in Censorship | Comments Off on Polish Second World War Museum Director Vows to Fight … – Newsweek

Police: DNA from shoelace led to man now charged with brutal Marymoor Park attack – Q13 FOX

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 8:51 pm

Charles Stockwell

SEATTLE Charles Stockwell, 33, was charged Wednesday with first-degree assault in the brutal and merciless attack on a woman walking her dog in Redmonds Marymoor Park last August, the King County Prosecutors Office announced.

Bail was set at $1 million.

According to court documents, on Aug. 5, 2016 at about 6:45 p.m., while the victim was walking her dog on a trail in Marymoor Park, the defendant rushed at the victim from behind, grabbed her, lifted her off her feet and threw her to the ground. The man began punching the woman in the face and then tried to strangle her by pushing his thumbs into her throat.

When the victim asked the defendant why he was doing this, he responded that he had to do it and that he was going to kill her, the documents say.

During the attack, the man grabbed the womans arm, wrenched it behind her back and popped her elbow out of her socket. With the victim screaming on the ground in pain, the defendant took a shoelace out of one of his shoes, put it around the victims neck, and began strangling her with it, the documents say.

The attacker fled when a man walking in the area heard the victims screams and ran over.

A mixed DNA profile was obtained from the shoelace used to strangle her and a during a routine CODIS search, the profile hit on the defendant, Charles Stockwell, as a possible contributor.

Three days after the attack, Stockwell was arrested for burglary in Thurston County.

He was transported to Western State Hospital on Dec. 16 and has remained there since. He has been found incompetent to stand trial so far.

In December, the victim of the attack, who does not want to be identified, issued this statement:

First I want to thank the King County Sheriffs office and the King County Prosecutors office for their continued work, diligence and support over the last six months. Many other local police departments, FBI, Crime Stoppers and the media did their part in getting the word out, assisting in the investigation and trying to keep the public safe from this man.

Photos show the facial injuries of the victim and a police sketch of the attacker.

I want to thank my family, friends and community for your continued support.

My focus has been on recovery, protecting the public from this man and on making a strong case for the prosecution. I continue to recover physically and mentally. The public is safe with the man identified and in custody. Now I want to focus on what I can do to ensure he is in prison and off the streets for as long as possible.

I have faith in and support the Prosecutors plan and reasons behind not releasing additional information at this time. I hope and ask that the public and media give them the time needed so they can do their part preparing the best possible case.

It is not over yet we still need to put him in prison for a very long time so that he is not able to hurt anyone else ever again.

Visit link:
Police: DNA from shoelace led to man now charged with brutal Marymoor Park attack – Q13 FOX

Posted in DNA | Comments Off on Police: DNA from shoelace led to man now charged with brutal Marymoor Park attack – Q13 FOX

New nonprofit organization, Milwaukee Robotics Coalition, to launch – BizTimes.com (Milwaukee)

Posted: at 12:18 am

A new nonprofit organization called the Milwaukee Robotics Coalition is launching on Feb. 25.

The group is dedicated to supporting science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) education initiatives.

The MRC Launch Party, which isfree and open to the public, will be held at the 42 Lounge at 326 E. Mason St. from 6:30 pm. to 9 p.m.

MRC is an all-volunteer organization that intends to raise money and provide resources for local school robotics teams. The group is also planning to eventually develop a robotics innovation facility and create a professional network of volunteers to get involved with STEAM initiatives.

The MRCs primary focus after its launch will be to get local schools involved in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which is an international league of high school robotics teams who build and program robots to play certain games in tournaments.

The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in Americas 2016 survey indicated that nearly 30 percent of students more than 1.6 million say they would like to pursue STEM in their futures. Active participation in robotics is a great way to get them involved at an early age, said MRC Board PresidentPaul Jutrzonka. Were looking forward to a fun and informational night as the Milwaukee Robotics Coalition makes its presence known and begins its work with individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the area.

The launch party on Feb. 25 will give those interested in learning more about the nonprofit and its mission a chance to meet with MRC board members.

Those interested in learning more about the MRC are encouraged to visit the groups website and Facebook page.

A new nonprofit organization called the Milwaukee Robotics Coalition is launching on Feb. 25.

The group is dedicated to supporting science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) education initiatives.

The MRC Launch Party, which isfree and open to the public, will be held at the 42 Lounge at 326 E. Mason St. from 6:30 pm. to 9 p.m.

MRC is an all-volunteer organization that intends to raise money and provide resources for local school robotics teams. The group is also planning to eventually develop a robotics innovation facility and create a professional network of volunteers to get involved with STEAM initiatives.

The MRCs primary focus after its launch will be to get local schools involved in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which is an international league of high school robotics teams who build and program robots to play certain games in tournaments.

The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in Americas 2016 survey indicated that nearly 30 percent of students more than 1.6 million say they would like to pursue STEM in their futures. Active participation in robotics is a great way to get them involved at an early age, said MRC Board PresidentPaul Jutrzonka. Were looking forward to a fun and informational night as the Milwaukee Robotics Coalition makes its presence known and begins its work with individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the area.

The launch party on Feb. 25 will give those interested in learning more about the nonprofit and its mission a chance to meet with MRC board members.

Those interested in learning more about the MRC are encouraged to visit the groups website and Facebook page.

See original here:

New nonprofit organization, Milwaukee Robotics Coalition, to launch – BizTimes.com (Milwaukee)

Posted in Robotics | Comments Off on New nonprofit organization, Milwaukee Robotics Coalition, to launch – BizTimes.com (Milwaukee)

IMAX Unveils Flagship Virtual Reality Center in Los Angeles – Variety

Posted: at 12:17 am


All About Circuits
IMAX Unveils Flagship Virtual Reality Center in Los Angeles
Variety
If you've ever wanted to fulfill your childhood dream of holding a lightsaber in your hand, virtual rality can be the vehicle to set those fantasies back in motion. At the official unveiling of the flagship IMAX VR center on Los Angeles' Fairfax Avenue
IMAX VR Centre Shows Off VR Hardware, Brings Virtual Reality to the PublicAll About Circuits

all 4 news articles »

Link:

IMAX Unveils Flagship Virtual Reality Center in Los Angeles – Variety

Posted in Virtual Reality | Comments Off on IMAX Unveils Flagship Virtual Reality Center in Los Angeles – Variety

Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over … – Tampabay.com

Posted: February 14, 2017 at 11:57 pm

TAMPA With a criminal investigation hanging over him, former Public Transportation Commission chief Kyle Cockream repeatedly pleaded the Fifth Amendment during a deposition Monday into whether public records were deleted from agency cell phones.

A judge ordered Cockream to appear at the deposition as part of a public records lawsuit filed against the agency that regulates for-hire transportation in Hillsborough County. He turned up, but on advice from his attorney Michael Carey, refused to answer questions from Andrea Mogensen, a Sarasota lawyer who sued the PTC to obtain copies of text messages that Cockream sent to owners of taxicab and limousine-rental firms.

“He pled the Fifth to basically every question that I asked,” Mogensen said. “Obviously that’s very disappointing. Our objective is to recover the public records.”

The Fifth Amendment privilege allows a witness to decline to answer questions if the answers might incriminate him. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened a criminal investigation into whether PTC officials deliberately deleted public records, a misdemeanor under state law.

A forensic investigator hired to extract text messages for the public records lawsuit found that seven agency phones and Cockream’s personal cell phone were reset on Oct. 8, a process that wipes them clean. A PTC invoice shows that the agency on Oct. 12 paid $2,994 to Valrico tech firm Data Specialist Group for work they did on the phones that was detailed as “Mobile device data recovery.”

Cockream, who stepped down as executive director in December, could not be reached for comment. In a recent hearing, his attorney said Cockream was not trying to hide records but hired the tech firm to back up the data on the phones.

The mising data may shed light on a controversial period during which the PTC was accused of colluding with the cab industry against the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft.

Contact Christopher O’Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over missing public records 02/14/17 [Last modified: Monday, February 13, 2017 9:22pm] Photo reprints | Article reprints

Link:
Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over … – Tampabay.com

Posted in Fifth Amendment | Comments Off on Former PTC chief Cockream pleads the Fifth Amendment over … – Tampabay.com

Top Science Organization Cautiously Supports Genetically Engineering Humans – Gizmodo

Posted: at 11:52 pm

Human mesenchymal stem cells (Image: Rose Spear/Flickr)

New gene editing methods like CRISPR/Cas9 have given scientists unprecedented potential to edit human DNA. But how should researchers in the field actually use these methods, especially when editing traits that can be passed down to children? Should they be used to cure disease? Should they be used to enhance features that arent necessary for our survival?

Were definitely far from seeing X-men mutants and genetically modified superhumans from whatever dystopian young adult novel you may be reading, especially in the United States where lawmakers passed legislation preventing government money from funding this kind of research. That hasnt stopped researchers in other countries like China from creating gene-edited embryos, which has some scientists very concerned. Today, the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine released a major new report and recommendations to ensure any such research done stateside in the future is performed responsibly and ethically.

The implicit message is that whether we like it or not, a future of gene-edited humans is on its way.

Although scientists have been able to chop up DNA for decades, precise new tools like CRISPR/Cas9 make it easier than ever to experiment with gene-edited livestock, or using gene-edited cells to help fight cancer in humans, for instance. But CRISPRs relative ease of use has caused many to worry about the ethical implications of germline editing, or editing traits in cells that could be passed on to later generations. A commentary published in 2015 in Nature warns that gene editing humans could have unpredictable effects on future generations.

The new National Academies report is an attempt to offer guidance both for germline editing to cure disease, as well as for enhancementmaking stronger, smarter, better humansshould the funding ban in the United States lift.

The Academies ruling on germline editing for curing inherited diseases is basically that scientists need to be very careful. The group recommends only permitting such procedures with lots of oversight, so long as researchers dont have better treatment options, know for a fact the gene theyre editing causes disease, are editing the gene to match the naturally-occurring healthy version, and perform rigorous research including clinical trials and multi-generational follow-up studies. After all, they need to ensure they havent accidentally introduced some dangerous mutation that will harm future humans.

As far as editing germline cells for human enhancement, the Academies said no wayat least, not yet. They hope to see further public discussion to make sure people are okay with what we might be doing to our species. I think its basically a lets buy some time, director of New York Universitys Division of Medical Ethics Arthur Caplan told Gizmodo. Its not inappropriate to buy some time. The techniques are new and we dont know if theyre safe. Plus, the technology isnt even close to making superbabies, although that hasnt stopped ethicists from considering the moral conundrum superbabies pose.

Caplan was concerned that the report didnt more strongly recommend testing any potential gene editing procedures in animals first, or discuss who actually owns the rights to various gene editing methods and how much they will cost. Im very worried about access, he said. Whos keeping an eye on the prices that will be charged? Will this be another repeat of the drug price problems?

Ultimately, the Academies and Caplan hope to see more communication between the scientists and the public about how we as a society feel about gene editing. The reality is the scientific community hasnt really spent enough resources thinking about how to really engage the public, said Caplan. They have to do more surveys, better outreach, use the internet more. The report is quiet about that…Weve gotta get more creative than weve been.

Update 1:55PM: Some are disappointed with the Academies statement, which approves of genetic engineering despite the cautious wording. The Center for Genetics and Society sent Gizmodo a statement including the following quote:

The recommendations and conclusions of this report are unsettling and disappointing, said Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society. Although theyre couched in apparently cautionary language, they actually constitute a green light for proceeding with efforts to modify the human germlinethat is, to engineer the genes and traits that are passed on to future children and generations.

In December 2015, the National Academies International Summit on Human Gene Editing concluded with a statement that it would be irresponsible to proceed with human germline modification unless and until a broad societal consensus had been reached. Todays report dispenses with the idea of meaningful public participation in this profoundly consequential decision, Darnovsky said. It calls for `continued public engagement [page 146] with the details, but excludes the public from participation in deciding whether human germline modification is acceptable in the first place.

Excerpt from:
Top Science Organization Cautiously Supports Genetically Engineering Humans – Gizmodo

Posted in Genetic Engineering | Comments Off on Top Science Organization Cautiously Supports Genetically Engineering Humans – Gizmodo