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Noah Feldman

Outrage Over Human Gene Editing Will Fade Fast

Fears of designer babies are overblown, and the disease-fighting benefits are too great to ignore.

A little DNA snip here, a new gene there … 

A little DNA snip here, a new gene there … 

Photographer: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

It’s too soon to know whether a Chinese researcher who claims to have successfully edited the genomes of newly born twins is telling the truth. But if he is, and if the girls turn out to be healthy and normal, it heralds a significant change in the scientific and ethical status of human gene editing. The outrage might not last long.

The consensus in the scientific community now is that human gene editing is medically dangerous and ethically wrong. Both of those beliefs are susceptible to changing, almost as fast as science is capable of progressing.