October 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

First anti-CRISPR political campaign is born in Europe

Campaigns are underway in several European countries against the possible use of genetic modification in humans to make designer babies and one has a distinctly anti-CRISPR tone.

Stop Baby GMO
Stop Baby GMO Website images

For example, in France a group is pushing an anti-GM baby campaign and the same kind of thing is going on in Switzerland, which I blogged about recently. In Switzerland it appears the campaign is targeting legislation related to preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) so it seems that campaign is using the possibility of designer babies (pretty much a non-issue for PGD) and the animosity toward GMO foods amongst some in Europe as a wedge to get votes against PGD.

The images above are from the Stop Baby GMO campaign in France, which also has a crying baby logo (below).Stop Baby GM

It’s notable that the French group strongly ties their campaign specifically to CRISPR as you can see in the images from their site.

As many of the readers of this blog know, I have some concerns about the potential future use of CRISPR in the human germline in terms of safety issues as well as ethical and social justice concerns.

I’ve articulated these and other issues related to CRISPR use in humans here on this blog and also in my new book, GMO Sapiens.

At the same time, we use CRISPR in my lab for genetic studies in human cells, but we are not pursuing its use in human gametes or embryos.

I’m concerned that these campaigns that specifically target CRISPR could have negative effects on the freedom of us scientists to do responsible CRISPR research in the lab.

I’m still trying to learn more about the political campaigns including the anti-genetic modification language that they are seeking to link to CRISPR, but at least some of the motivation seems to be related to a “right-to-life” perspective. Apparently similar posters have gone up in other European countries including Germany.

%d bloggers like this: