My friend Richard Doerflinger notes that the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for 2016 would seem to prevent federal money from being used to fund genetic engineering studies in human embryos.
The gene editing technique in question is known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat), and a National Academy of Sciences meeting recently opined–as I predicted here–that research on embryos should go forward.
But that doesn’t mean we should pay for it. From the bill:
SEC. 749. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to notify a sponsor or otherwise acknowledge receipt of a submission for an exemption for investigational use of a drug or biological product under section 505(i) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (22 U.S.C. 355(i)) or section 351(a)(3) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 262(a)(3)) in research in which a human embryo is intentionally created or modified to include a heritable genetic modification. Any such submission shall be deemed to have not been received by the Secretary, and the exemption may not go into effect.
We can’t trust “the SCIENTISTS” to act in an ethical manner, or at least wait until society decides how and whether to proceed on such contentious moral issues as human cloning research and genetic engineering.
That being so, the next best thing to a formal ban is to keep the funding spigot turned firmly off so as to impede unethical research and deny it the imprimatur of federal funding respectability.
This provision would seem to further that goal. Let us hope that it passes into implemented policy.