The beginning of what will be seen to be the human breeding programme will be starting in London today. The new methods of gene-editing now allows the genes of lab-fertilized eggs to be improved when necessary. The first stage will be to remove subpar genes which would otherwise give rise to handicaps and diseases, and replace them with standard ones.
To get to the first stage, however, will require a great deal of research involving many fertilized leftovers from IVF clinics that would not otherwise — for different reasons — have developed into viable embryos. These will involve zygotes. These are fertilized eggs up to a few days old which have divided into about 200 cells in which their DNA is still pluripotent (‘general purpose’). The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) are meeting today and will be giving their go-ahead — probably.
China carried out similar experiments last year but there was an outcry from scientists all round the world that not enough consideration had been given to them beforehand. By virtue of a more experienced approach over many years, scientists and governments in many countries will accept the HFEA’s decision today as their go-ahead also.