Transhumanist UK congratulates the UK HFEA on its foresight in allowing gene editing of embryos

Originally published on 10 February 2016.

“Our Licence Committee has approved an application from Dr Kathy Niakan of the Francis Crick Institute to renew her laboratory’s research licence to include gene editing of embryos.”HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), 01 February 2016.

Transhumanist UK views this decision as a key landmark in the progress towards a future in which hereditary diseases are eliminated. Furthermore, we see this decision as a vital first step in exploring and developing applications of the new, revolutionary and globally accessible genetic engineering tools that have become available over the past three years.

With such tools the human genome can be modified and enhanced not only to eliminate disease but to make significant progress towards the Transhumanist goal of citizens being “better than well”, wherein various traits such as resistance to all forms of disease, increased healthy longevity and improved cognitive ability can be emphasised to improve general health and happiness for all through all stages of life.

It is our vision that this technology be made accessible to all, and applied to the point where such historically divisive issues as race and gender become no more important than fashion choices on the road to becoming a posthuman species.

In accordance with our ideological position, we have a number of reservations with regards to how these technologies are developed and used.

  1. We believe that when these techniques are perfected and can be applied safely, that it is crucial, that all prospective parents have access to them, regardless of wealth or status and in keeping with the NHS model of “free at the point of delivery”.
  2. While we uphold and advocate the principle of morphological freedom, we resolutely do not support such freedom, if such freedom results in genetic modification that diminishes capabilities. That is, we do not support modifications that would lessen a child’s abilities or senses.

Finally, we view the label “designer babies” to be a desirable near​term goal. After all who would not want a happy child, free from illness, graceful and athletic, with a long and healthy life, and possessed of greater intelligence to help solve pressing social and scientific problems? Genetic engineering of the human genome has the potential to become one of our most vital tools in helping to remove traditional inequalities in society and also those imposed upon us by blind evolution, and is the first true step in taking control of our shared destiny from nature.

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