Brave New World of Editing Human DNA Starts in China

Researchers expressed surprise at the report Nov. 26 of the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies — twin girls. It’s no surprise that the scientist making the claim was from China. As part of its effort to dominate scientific spheres including biotechnology, the country has taken the lead in testing uses of Crispr, a tool newly available to researchers enabling them to alter DNA codes simply and inexpensively. Chinese scientists were the first to test Crispr in monkey embryos, in non-viable human embryos, in adult humans — and now this. The announcement of the first designer babies has renewed debate over whether China’s regulatory system is sufficiently grappling with the ethical considerations and medical risks of Crispr.