Editorial : Huge outcry over birth of GM babies

【明報專訊】MAINLAND scientist He Jiankui's announcement of the birth of a pair of twins who were made AIDS-proof by genome-editing technology has provoked a huge outcry. More than a hundred Chinese scientists have signed a letter condemning his research while the Ministry of Science and Technology has made it clear that it is unlawful to edit the genomes of babies. Whether He will attend the International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong has also become a topic of widespread concern. Genome editing has been the most sought-after medical technology in recent years but it has also raised ethical controversies from time to time. Although many countries have legislation to regulate research on human embryonic genomes, it is not difficult to exploit loopholes in the laws. The mainland authorities must launch an investigation to ascertain the facts surrounding He's claim and punish anyone who has violated the law. The Hong Kong government has been pushing hard to develop innovation and technology lately, with biotechnology and genetic engineering being one of the major fields identified. To prevent anyone from abusing the technology, the government must establish a regulatory framework in this regard.