WORLD HEALTH OR­GA­NI­ZA­TION WANTS PANEL TO STUDY GENE EDIT­ING

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The chief of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says his agency is as­sem­bling ex­perts to con­sider the health im­pacts of gene edit­ing.

WHO Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus said this week that gene edit­ing “can­not be just done with­out clear guide­lines” and ex­perts should “start from a clean sheet and check ev­ery­thing.”

Te­dros’ com­ments fol­lowed Chi­nese sci­en­tist He Jiankui’s an­nounce­ment last week that he had helped al­ter the DNA of new­born twins in hopes of mak­ing them re­sis­tant to the AIDS virus.

China or­dered a halt to ex­per­i­ments by He’s team.

Te­dros told re­porters WHO’s ex­perts “should start from ask­ing, ‘Should we even con­sider this?’” and noted: “We have a big part of our pop­u­la­tion who say, ‘Don’t touch.’”

He said: “We have to be very, very care­ful, and the work­ing group will do that.”

Im­age: De­nis Bal­i­bouse

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