Ban on pregnancy with germline cells or human embryos having undergone intentional genome editing

 In a draft recommendation adopted unanimously, the PACE Social Affairs Committee has called on all member states which have not yet ratified the Oviedo Convention to do so without further delay, or, as a minimum, to put in place a national ban on establishing a pregnancy with germline cells or human embryos having undergone intentional genome editing.

“The current scientific consensus is that these techniques are not yet ‘safe’ enough to establish a pregnancy with germline cells or human embryos having undergone intentional genome editing,” said rapporteur Petra De Sutter (Belgium, SOC).

“Deliberate germline editing in human beings would also cross a line viewed as ethically inviolable,” she warned.

The committee agreed that while recent discoveries related to the human genome have opened the door to new opportunities, they also raise unprecedented ethical concerns. In its five-step plan, it also urges the Committee of Ministers to foster broad and informed public debate, to instruct the Organisation’s Bioethics Committee to assess the ethical and legal challenges, to develop a common regulatory and legal framework and to ask member states to develop a clear national position on the practical use of new genetic technologies, setting the limits on their use and promoting good practice.

The report on the use of new genetic technologies in human beings is scheduled for debate during the next PACE plenary session in Strasbourg (26-30 June 2017).