Tinkering With Babies' DNA Is Illegal in China, Science Official Confirms
Liao Shumin
/SOURCE : yicai
Tinkering With Babies' DNA Is Illegal in China, Science Official Confirms

(Yicai Global) Nov. 28 -- If the claimed gene editing of two twin babies allegedly recently born is indeed confirmed, this is explicitly prohibited under Chinese law, a government official has said.

The matter must be dealt with in accordance with Chinese law, added Xu Nanping, deputy science and technology minister, on Nov. 26  addressing the case of the genetically-modified babies that has drawn  such wide public attention, in the media center of China's cabinet the  State Council, state broadcaster CCTV news reported.

He Jiankui, the Chinese researcher who claimed yesterday to have altered the genes of newborn twin girls, has unleashed a firestorm of reaction in official, scientific and public circles.

Editing and modifying the genes of human embryos for research purposes is permissible, Xu said, citing ethical guidelines for embryonic stem cell research issued in 2003, but the period of in vitro culturing may not exceed 14 days from fertilization, he noted. China has started examining whether the grounds for calling the first gene-edited babies into existence, namely the two infants called Lulu and Nana that were born in the southeastern city of Shenzhen, are legal. 

The National Health Commission has requested the Guangdong provincial Health and Family Planning Commission to launch a corresponding investigation "in accordance with the high responsibility and scientific principles regarding people's health, as well as the law," and publish the results, the healthcare policy planner said on its official website yesterday.

Editor: Ben Armour

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Keywords: Gene Editing , He Jiankui