The German Ethics Council has called for broad international discourse on germline editing and is recommending the establishment of an international institution that would develop standards for germline interventions in humans and address the medical and social implications.
In a new report published this month, the Council says it does not deem the human germline to be inviolable. It does, however, consider germline editing to be "ethically irresponsible" at the present time because of the incalculable risks.
The comments come less than a year after researcher He Jiankui told the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing that the world's first genetically edited babies had been born in China whose genomes had been edited to prevent them from contracting HIV.
The Council says any appropriate assessment of germline interventions must go beyond a mere risk-benefit analysis and consider ethical concepts such as human dignity, protection of life and integrity, justice, solidarity and responsibility.
The report recommends an international moratorium on the clinical application of germline interventions in humans and urges authorities in Germany to work towards a binding international agreement in this area.