It was recently learned that a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, claims to have made the first human genetic modification by editing the genes of two twin sisters.
This scientist says he made this gene surgery of embryos, “to give these two babies, who were born this month, the ability to resist any future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.”
As suggested by this article, published by The Washington Post on November 26, 2018, “Chinese scientist’s claim of gene-edited babies creates uproar”, this news has not been warmly received by the scientific community, to say the least!
The ethics committees are frantic; some 120 Chinese scientists signed a letter warning that “The Pandora’s Box has been opened”! So, should or shouldn’t one “play” with the human genome, does every modification at this scale amount to sacrilege, does it interfere with a higher design, with a Supreme Being, God to specific, prohibiting any manipulation that would alter his “original work” in any way? But do these principles from religious realms provide an enlightened answer to a problem that would rather fall under science? Rael, in his book “Yes to Human Cloning” on the other hand, brings a rational light to this question which is challenging current beliefs: “At the moment, it is left to chance, or what some, who are still sufficiently primitive or superstitious as to believe in such things, call ‘the will of God’.” He adds: “Very soon, however, all the child’s characteristics will be a matter of choice, and then you can really have a baby ‘a la carte’. The arguments of those who oppose this are ridiculous.” P51.
This means that not only will one be able to correct a disease-carrying gene, as in the case of the twin sisters, but also to choose specific characteristics of the child to be born, ranging from eye color to aptitudes for science, art or sport. The ethics committees will have a lot on their plate! Moreover, in a recent press release on this specific case of the Chinese twins, Rael declares unequivocally: “Raël has explained that this gene modification is a wonderful technology that will not lead to the creation of an elite or ‘superior race’, but rather to the improvement of all Humanity.” And in the same release, Rael shares what he really thinks about ethics committees: “ ‘Ethically concerned’ scientists are afraid that some modifications could be ‘dangerous for the future of Humanity’ while each day millions of people have babies with genetic diseases caused from drugs – medical or not – alcohol, tobacco, nuclear radiations (Fukushima), pollution and, more importantly from stress”, said Raël. “And to worry that very few children being genetically modified – for the better – will have an impact on the future of Humanity is laughable” he continued.
Even though some claim that He Jiankui did not respect the scientific protocol by taking the initiative to make corrections on embryos, that he set a dangerous precedent, we cannot let certain principles from primitive religions, where superstitions dominate, establish themselves as beacons to pave the way for our future as humanity. Tomorrow’s science and all its promises are knocking at the door, so let us give free rein to the researchers who are anxious to relieve the human being of its genetic defects, and who are planning to create the “new man”.
Columnist for the Raelian Church