Gene-editing in the corridors of power

Every mother wants intelligent, healthy children. The technique by which this will be accomplished in future years is gene-editing. In addition, even though at a very early stage of development, gene-editing is already being used for treating several genetically-linked diseases that strike during childhood and at any time into middle life.

Indeed, it’s likely to become the greatest economic growth sector of any so far as the Biological Revolution supersedes the Industrial one before it. It is likely to become a major item in many consumers’ lifetime spending. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, the Biological one will have no consequences of widespread pollution, destruction of the natural environment and the extinction of thousands of animal species.

Since 1979, China has lifted itself up by its bootstraps by copying all available technologies of the West. You can’t blame the country for that. America did the same for European inventions in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, for the first time in the case of gene-editing, China has hauled itself right up to the leading edge of gene-editing research — and even applications on human foetuses.

Although normally regarded as more highly regulatory than the ‘liberal’ countries of the West, China’s culture is more ethically relaxed in the area of human gene-editing. There are some legal restrictions but not as many as in most European countries or America. In this regard, China and this country are almost on a par.

G Owen Schaefer, of the National University of Singapore has rung the tocsin in The Conversation web-site to spread the word more widely but you can be certain that, because of its economic implications, the topic of gene-editing and its future funding and development is being given serious consideration in the highest government circles in Europe and America.

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