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FDA Weighs Risks Of Three-Person Embryo Fertilization

Publication Date: 
February 24, 2014
Source: 
The Washington Post (AP)

Professor Hank Greely comments on the ethical repurcussions of creating fertilized eggs with the DNA of three parents for The Washington Post.  

Federal health regulators will consider this week whether to green light a provocative new fertilization technique that could eventually create babies from the DNA of three people, with the goal of preventing mothers from passing on debilitating genetic diseases to their children.

The Food and Drug Administration has framed its two-day meeting as a “scientific, technologic and clinical” discussion about how to test the approach in humans. But the technique itself raises a number of ethical questions, including whether the government should sanction the creation of genetically modified humans.

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Stanford University Professor Hank Greely says the FDA is taking the right approach by focusing on the immediate safety concerns, rather than speculating on whether this could lead to a “Brave New World” scenario of biologically engineered humans.

“We constantly live on slippery slopes and it’s our job as moral humans to hold a good position on the slope,” said Greely, a law professor who studies medical ethics. “If you’re worried about genetically engineered monsters or superheroes then you try to stop that, you don’t try to stop medically useful interventions because you’re worried that 17 steps down the line it will turn into something we don’t like.”