Regulating Human Germline Genome Editing: Balancing Risks and Opportunities

Due to groundbreaking scientific progress and improved tools such as CRISPR/Cas9, human genome editing has not only become possible, but is also getting safer, more precise, and more accessible. While these advances are welcome, significant concerns remain over the potential misuse of human genome editing technologies, in particular regarding heritable genome editing. In addition, concerns exist about variable regulation of human genome editing in different jurisdictions, which could give rise to a new dimension of reproductive travel. A binding framework at international level thus seems much needed. By building on soft law and different existing policy responses existing, this paper discusses some of the most prominent challenges regarding regulating genome editing of embryos at international level. In particular, the paper reflects on possible ways to reconcile the fear of abuse of human genome editing with the wish to make use of its potential benefits as a tool for public health.