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Chinese Scientist Who Created CRISPR Babies Could Face the Death Penalty, Fellow Geneticist Warns

By Gizmodo

A British geneticist is worried that He Jiankui—the Chinese scientist responsible for the birth of genetically modified human twins—could face the death penalty for corruption and bribery chargesRead full story

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  • He Jiankui has violated academic ethics and codes of conduct, but he shouldn’t get the death penalty for it. His execution certainly will not stop other rogue scientists from doing the same.

  • One makes life, other takes life. And the critics on both sides shout the same accusation - “You’re playing God!”.

    Not making light of the very serious issues at stake here, just observing an oddity from the sidelines.

  • What the Chinese government chooses to do with He will be important to watch. Given where they stand on free speech and civil liberties, I think China likely sees gene editing as permissible. The question is whether or not they want the world to know that.

    Though the death penalty is excessive, it

    What the Chinese government chooses to do with He will be important to watch. Given where they stand on free speech and civil liberties, I think China likely sees gene editing as permissible. The question is whether or not they want the world to know that.

    Though the death penalty is excessive, it would make an overt statement against gene editing. Anything less could be interpreted as an endorsement. Which is more beneficial for them on the world stage?

  • The death penalty probably isn’t appropriate, but I do believe the implications and repercussions of his behavior are worthy of a conversation of this magnitude. This is serious stuff. Sure CRISPR technology is a scientific breakthrough, but is it safe in our hands?

  • The modern morality roadmap gets ever more challenging to navigate ...

  • It's admittedly hard to gauge what the Chinese government would do in this situation. Saving face, national pride and the appearance of respecting nature are all part and parcel of the Chinese experience. The Chinese also have legal and cultural morality rules that can seem both arbitrary and draconian

    It's admittedly hard to gauge what the Chinese government would do in this situation. Saving face, national pride and the appearance of respecting nature are all part and parcel of the Chinese experience. The Chinese also have legal and cultural morality rules that can seem both arbitrary and draconian. Let's face it genetic alterations have until recently, just been fodder for ethicists and science fiction writers. The rubber has met the road and China is the first government now faced with defining the crime and meting out justice.

  • I’ve only loosely been following this topic so my knowledge is limited on this particular issue. Is the death penalty a little harsh? Perhaps, depending on the supposed outcome that may result. There is still so much we don’t know about gene enhancement and manipulation. And if it is true regarding the

    I’ve only loosely been following this topic so my knowledge is limited on this particular issue. Is the death penalty a little harsh? Perhaps, depending on the supposed outcome that may result. There is still so much we don’t know about gene enhancement and manipulation. And if it is true regarding the family’s limited knowledge on what exactly they were getting themselves involved in, who knows what sort of health risks could potentially come about down the road.

    However, with all being said, I feel that it’s important that our scientific advancements come from a place of transparency and honesty, no matter what the potential benefits might be.

  • The PRC saving face seems a likely motivation for whatever He’s fate will be. China wants to be known as a global leader in technological development. With one of their own taking a unconscionable leap testing this very new technology on humans puts that desired reputation in peril.

    He’s decision was

    The PRC saving face seems a likely motivation for whatever He’s fate will be. China wants to be known as a global leader in technological development. With one of their own taking a unconscionable leap testing this very new technology on humans puts that desired reputation in peril.

    He’s decision was reckless, unethical and may cause tremendous suffering in the gene edited twins over time. It’s an example that may give foreign scientists pause when dealing with legitimate Chinese researchers in the future. There is no way Beijing could countenance that, and they would be right. Yet I find it odd they didn’t know what was happening before the news made its way outside China.

    What is so unfortunate is that it may set back progress for CRISPR research elsewhere in the world. Human patients cannot be early test subjects for an approach we still don’t fully understand, or it’s long term implications.

    Should He face capital punishment? Unfortunately, others have lost their lives for less in China. Though I doubt there is much difference between armed guards keeping He under a house arrest. Or their providing him protection from the outside world.

  • This is the future of our race, yes he didn't approach this the right way and his actions will effect not only those kids but also influence the minds of people who don't understand science and will call for a halt in this natural human progress.

    Though I think death penalty is a little harsh.

  • Doctors play God everyday correcting genetic disorders and diseases. This may be medicine's next natural step -- even if it's not taken for some years.

    If history about the slow acceptance over time of new and scary ideas holds true here the line this geneticist is accused of crossing will some day be

    Doctors play God everyday correcting genetic disorders and diseases. This may be medicine's next natural step -- even if it's not taken for some years.

    If history about the slow acceptance over time of new and scary ideas holds true here the line this geneticist is accused of crossing will some day be many miles this side of the line future generations of doctors, parents and geneticist will cross every day without thinking twice.

    Perhaps those who believe a god will hold people accountable for this simply shouldn't participate - letting their loved ones die of diseases that could be cured, if not eradicated entirely, and joining them in heaven when their time comes.

    But I don't think they should expect people to live, and die, by their beliefs.

    Intelligence and our natural, insatiable desire to learn and discover everything we can seems to be inherent in our species.

    If a god made us then our nature is of that god's doing and this was inevitable.

  • Most clever suicide-by-needle scenario I’ve ever heard. God will hold the paid executioners spiritually accountable, while the foreword-thinking scientist will fall asleep a martyr for the progressive scientific community! 🤣

  • From what's generally known so far, it's not just gross violations of research procedures. Hospitals, the subjects' parents were being misled he was researching HIV vaccines, scores of staff and at least a local hospital was also involved. So at a minimum, fraud and corruption acts were committed.

    From what's generally known so far, it's not just gross violations of research procedures. Hospitals, the subjects' parents were being misled he was researching HIV vaccines, scores of staff and at least a local hospital was also involved. So at a minimum, fraud and corruption acts were committed.

    Such research on human subject could be potentially catastrophic for the human race and I won't be surprised if the Chinese prosecutor chose the most severe charges to file, i.e. - corruptions.

  • This is actually b......t. It has no way to be death penalty.

    No matter how bad CRISPR babies are: 1. He didn’t violate a law, so a verdict, or sentence from the court (not community/academia) will be extremely difficult; 2. He is not arrested yet but just under investigation. If he is a suspect in

    This is actually b......t. It has no way to be death penalty.

    No matter how bad CRISPR babies are: 1. He didn’t violate a law, so a verdict, or sentence from the court (not community/academia) will be extremely difficult; 2. He is not arrested yet but just under investigation. If he is a suspect in a sense by law, police would have been involved. However now he’s “prisoned” inside his university guesthouse, so it is still at the level of academic ethics.

    Moreover, China has no motivation in setting a precedence for a scientist, given their investment and state-wide agenda in promoting the country’s scientific research and high tech. To give a death penalty in China, the judge still needs to cite the established law instead of a state research guideline — otherwise it leads to controversy outside the box and the government doesn’t want to deal with it. Even corruption and bribery don’t result in death penalty unless one is a high-level government officer and huge $.

  • God gives men the knowledge to move forward. What's the problem.

  • OMG -- that was wrong, but this is also wrong.

  • I understand the issue with gene editing and in the same breath the man made those twins HIV immune. I mean that has to count for something. I guess my biggest question is: what is everybody objection to gene-editing?(besides the playing God part)

  • Not really sure about gene editing, though I would be open to the possibility of editing the genes of an already born individual who has been proven to have inherited a mass of narcissist brain cells crowding out cells that are identified to be the source of compassion. I could change my mind, if there’s

    Not really sure about gene editing, though I would be open to the possibility of editing the genes of an already born individual who has been proven to have inherited a mass of narcissist brain cells crowding out cells that are identified to be the source of compassion. I could change my mind, if there’s some good reason that evolution has, over millions of years in favor of human survival, selected for our species, a mass of narcissist brain cells in some humans.

  • This is scary as hell, I’m not surprised that one day there is a price to pay.

  • Ironically his name is He, with a capital H. I smell Jurassic Park type of destruction if humans go this route.

  • The Chinese will deal with this Dr. Strangelove in their own way. We should take a page out of their book and reserve the same fate for doctors, women, and men who kill innocent babies or murder indiscriminately.

  • He is like a hot potato now that no one want to touch.The best punishment should be the word he said—to look after the baby for life.

  • This does not make much sense. The assumption here seems to be that the Chinese government is as concerned with the morality of gene editing as are Western countries. It sounds as if Lovell-Badge is projecting his view of gene editing being on par with a crime that deserves the death penalty but offers

    This does not make much sense. The assumption here seems to be that the Chinese government is as concerned with the morality of gene editing as are Western countries. It sounds as if Lovell-Badge is projecting his view of gene editing being on par with a crime that deserves the death penalty but offers nothing but speculation that the Chinese government views it the same way. It seems more plausible that they're protecting He for future projects.

  • This is a tough issue that society was not prepared to deal with. On one hand it makes me nervous the communist government has this technology ‘in hand’ because it may be able to help them solve their aging population issue. Regardless I don’t think the death penalty is appropriate. He should be in custody

    This is a tough issue that society was not prepared to deal with. On one hand it makes me nervous the communist government has this technology ‘in hand’ because it may be able to help them solve their aging population issue. Regardless I don’t think the death penalty is appropriate. He should be in custody and have his license and degrees revoked but he should not be killed for creating life.

  • This would be a disastrous way to introduce the public to human gene editing, akin to when the world was introduced to nuclear power at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A potentially transformational technology would be forever tainted by this event. And if the scientific commmunity is skeptical of gene editing

    This would be a disastrous way to introduce the public to human gene editing, akin to when the world was introduced to nuclear power at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A potentially transformational technology would be forever tainted by this event. And if the scientific commmunity is skeptical of gene editing because of possible damage to human life, sentencing He to the death penalty would be laughably hypocritical. Let's be cautious and wait to apply CRISPR on a large scale, but without acting so drastically that we destroy public belief in the technology.

  • An “experiment” conducted well before its time. Something like human cloning cannot take place in the absence of ethical, moral, and philosophical considerations, as well as, tight scientific and funding controls. It is also absolutely imperative that volunteers understand their consenting rights.

  • Young guy (34). Young people can be brash and bold at times. But the implications here are pretty staggering. He had the knowledge but not the wisdom to temper what he was doing.

  • Crazy scientist

  • Wow

  • Good.

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