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Parallel session

Beyond cheerleading

3 July

14:00 to 15:10

STCC, Room 5BC

“Honey, I CRISPRed the kids” – a “House of Commons” debate on urgent ethical questions

With packed rooms in previous World Conferences in Helsinki, Seoul and San Francisco, our lively House of Commons debate has become a tradition. In Lausanne, we’re at it again. This time, the House will debate an issue pushed to the forefront by two Chinese babies: With Crispr gene editing spreading like wildfire, are things already getting out of hand? ‘Crispr’ is shorthand for a new, easy and cheap technique for editing the DNA of living organisms. Scientists and laboratories all over the world are jumping the bandwagon, and in China the first edited human babies have now been born. Societies need to decide quickly which applications they like and which ones cross red lines. Science journalists and communicators should table the right questions, and they should do so soon. Should all forms of human germ line editing permanently be banned? Should we really release gene-edited species into the wild? Should we revive species that have gone extinct? Should we gene-edit farm animals to make them better in producing our food? And what is the role of science journalists in navigating these questions? Come join us in debating serious questions in a fun and entertaining way.

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