Briefing: China proposes regulations for human gene editing following scandal

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China to tighten rules on gene editing in humans – Nature

What happened: China’s health ministry has introduced draft regulations in response to international condemnation of He Jiankui’s announcement that he genetically modified two viable human embryos. While existing regulations already prohibit the editing of human embryos that will eventually be brought to term, the new rules would punish rogue scientists by making it more difficult for them to secure grants. The draft regulations also outline how criminal charges might be filed against scientists who use these technologies in ways that violate state law.

Why it’s important: Following news that the government might have been involved in funding parts of He’s experiment, these draft regulations serve as a statement to the international community that China does not officially condone unethical scientific behavior. They also encourage Chinese researchers and institutions to be responsible in the name of meaningful progress. While some believe such regulations could slow the rate of breakthroughs, according to Jonathan Kimmelman of McGill University, they have the potential to establish “a solid foundation for more sustained and long-term-oriented research activities.”