Nearly two decades ago, in an attempt to increase funding for research on embryonic stem cells, scientists and patient-advocacy groups enlisted patients suffering from a range of debilitating diseases, from Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis. Promising the possibility of a “cure” if only we would embrace embryo-destructive research, we were told that compassion for suffering individuals demands that we prioritize science over misguided moral concerns about the embryo.
Fast forward nearly 20 years, and no embryonic stem cell-based treatments have yet reached the clinic. Despite this track record, the same scientific associations that oversold embryonic stem cells are now championing a new form of embryo-destructive research—the genetic modification of human embryos—as a method that will potentially cure a variety of genetic disorders. The reality, though, is that this embryo-destructive research will have virtually no utility in treating or preventing disease. Once again, we are being told to allow this research to progress under false pretenses and with potentially disastrous consequences. While it will never be used to cure disease, if this research is allowed to progress, it will be used for the genetic enhancement of humans.
The ability to edit a genome, i.e., insert or delete genetic material, is nothing new. Researchers have been doing this for decades with model research organisms such as fruit flies and mice. However, the techniques that have been used traditionally for such research did not readily lend themselves to the modification of human embryos.
Read more at Catholic World Report.