Christians block US DNA work

godThe US is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to DNA research because fundementalist Christians believe that Jesus would not want them doing that sort of thing.

The problem is that Congress has been listening to Christian lobby groups and banned human germline modification mostly on the basis that God saw his creation was good and therefore humans should not tinker.

However a paper published today in Science by Harvard law and bioethics professor I. Glenn Cohen and leading biologist Eli Adashi of Brown University say that without a course correction, “the United States is ceding its leadership in this arena to other nations”.

True, they might be godless heathens who believe in things like evolution and global warming but there is a possibily that they will sort out the world’s health crisis while the US is having to deal with biblical plagues.

Germline gene modification is the act of making heritable changes to early stage human embryos or sex cells that can be passed down to the next generation, and it will be banned in the US. This is different from somatic gene editing, which is editing cells of humans that have already been born.

The ban, added by the House of Representatives as a rider to the fiscal year 2016 budget, could have far-reaching implications if it continues to be annually renewed, according to the authors.

What will be “amusing” is when Congressmen start telling American parents that their precious little snowflakes will not be allowed treatments for life threatening conditions which are available overseas. It is unlikely that such parents will see it as a wonderful thing that their child is going to get to see Jesus before his classmates.

James Hughes, executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies added that boffins were on the cusp of being able to do [gene editing] safely, and the prospect of a telling a parent that they won’t have access to these therapies is morally untenable. Up to 4,000 children a year are diagnosed with some form of mitochondrial disorder

In the UK, which some in the field see as being more liberal than the US in gene editing legislation, MRT was approved by both houses of Parliament last year, following a robust period of investigation, public debate, and multiple rounds of parliamentary review.

Congress began looking into gene editing last year with hearings led by House Science, Space and Technology committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), who believes that the US should proceed with severe caution when it comes to genetically altering embryos with heritable changes, even if it means putting off curing diseases.