Chinese scientist genetically modifies twin girls

Genetically modifying organisms has always been controversial, but the debate has resurfaced due to Chinese He Jiankui’s latest experiment. In a YouTube video, he claimed he had successfully modified the DNA of two twins using CRISPR, a gene editing tool.

Jiankui’s announcement left the world in shock and has received more criticism than praise. “No one expected that someone would do this experiment on a human embryo,”  said Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of CRISPR. “The scientific community didn’t actually know anything about what was going on.”

Serious questions about the experiment’s ethicality have been raised since Zhang made his announcement. China, a leader in the biotechnology field, is also being criticized since it has disregarded ethical questions in order to achieve a scientific breakthrough.

According to the Center for Genetics and Society, the technology is relatively new, and its long term effects are unknown. Some scientist worry about irreversible effects and the possibility of discrimination towards genetically modified humans. Scientists have also reached the conclusion that tampering with a human embryo is a boundary that should not be crossed until further research is completed.

Sanderson student  Mia Huffman, who is interested in studying genetics, also believes that human DNA should be left alone. “I just can’t imagine changing someone’s life before he or she is even born and possibly giving an either a fair or unfair advantage compared to others,” she said.

In a joint statement, the hospital named in Zheng’s approval documents and the university he is connected with deny any involvement of his procedures. More than 100 Chinese scientists disapprove of the research, explaining that “directly experimenting on humans is nothing but crazy.”