Global Governance of Human Genome Editing: What Are the Rules?

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8 Scopus citations


Human gene editing, particularly using the new CRISPR/Cas9 technology, will greatly increase the capability to make precise changes to human genomes. Human gene editing can be broken into four major categories: somatic therapy, heritable gene editing, genetic enhancement, and basic and applied research. Somatic therapy is generally well governed by national regulatory systems, so the need for global governance is less urgent. All nations are in agreement that heritable gene editing should not proceed at this time, but there is likely to be divergence if and when such procedures are shown to be safe and effective. Gene editing for enhancement purposes is not feasible today but is more controversial with the public, and many nations do not have well-developed regulatory systems for addressing genetic enhancement. Finally, different nations treat research with human embryos very differently based on deeply embedded social, cultural, ethical, and legal traditions. Several international governance mechanisms are currently in operation for human gene editing, and several other governance mechanisms have been proposed. It is unlikely that any single mechanism will alone be effective for governing human gene editing; rather, a polycentric or ecosystem approach that includes several overlapping and interacting components is likely to be necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-405
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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