Genetically-Modified Babies: Chinese Scientist Convicted

In China, the scientist who produced genetically modified twin babies has been sentenced to three years in prison.

In November 2018, the Chinese scientist He Jiankiu provoked shock and outrage around the world when he announced the birth of twin girls whose DNA he had altered. By using the Crispr-Cas 9 technique, he attempted to confer immunity to H.I.V. since their father was infected with AIDS virus. Since this announcement, a third child was born to another woman using the same technique.

Ultimately, the Chinese authorities, who had previously been accused of laxity following this event, sentenced Jiankiu to three years in prison and a fine of three million Yuan (385,000 €) for “illegally carrying out genetic manipulation of embryos for reproductive purposes,” according to the New China news agency. In addition, the court found the scientist guilty of “forging approval documents from ethical review boards” and of “using technologies of uncertain safety and effectiveness”. Moreover, according to the extracts of the experiment published in the MIT Technology Review, it has not been proved that the babies are really immunized against AIDS.

The Chinese Civil Code is scheduled to be revised in March, with a new article to be drafted concerning the regulation of genome research.

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