A DANGEROUS PATH
Foreigners in Shanghai share their opinions on embryonic stem cell research
Chinese authorities on November 29 ordered suspending research activities of persons involved in the gene-edited babies incident, denouncing the matter as “extremely abominable in nature” and in violation of Chinese laws and science ethics, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The gene-edited twins matter reported by the media has brazenly violated Chinese laws and regulations and breached the ethical bottom line, which is both shocking and unacceptable, Xu Nanping, vice minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology, told Xinhua.
China’s National Health Commission and the China Association for Science and Technology also spoke against the incident.
He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher based in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province, claimed on November 26 to have altered the DNA of twin girls born a few weeks ago to prevent them from contracting HIV. His claim remains unproven but the incident has triggered heated debate in the scientific community and on social media.
Thus, the Global Times recently asked some foreigners in Shanghai about their opinions on the experiment.
Elizabeth, a 34-year-old woman from the US, heard about the news and told the Global Times that she doesn’t support this experiment because it’s an ethics violation. According to Elizabeth, there are many HIV drugs and researchers working hard in the field, and many Chinese scientists have already agreed to treat the disease in that way. “I hope they take more time and work on sequencing genomics in different ways before they modify and change human life,” Elizabeth said.
Gilles from France told us that it is not good. “You know where you start but you don’t know what will be the final destination.”
Arnaud from Belgium told the Global Times that it is against nature to change cells, although “it is well intended to cure HIV.”
When asked whether the work is unethical, some interviewees said it is. “It should be no exception,” Chris from Denmark told the Global Times, adding that he doesn’t support gene manipulation no matter if it’s in China or the rest of the world.
“It’s a dangerous path, because then people can make gene manipulations for anything,” Chris said. “It’s not a natural human thing to manipulate genes.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Marinbelle, who holds the view that it’s against nature.
Michael from Australia told the Global Times that he doesn’t think the experiment is unethical, explaining that if scientists can learn how to change genes for the better, “why not do it?”
Alex, a Spanish nutritionist and physical trainer, said “We need to be careful.” He does not agree that people should be totally genetically modified to become more intelligent or taller.
This story was written by Yao Jiaying based on a Global Times video and a report by Xinhua.