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WHO panel calls for registry of all human gene editing research

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It would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct human gene-editing studies in people, and a central registry of research plans should be set up to ensure transparency, World Health Organization experts said on Tuesday.

After its first two-day meeting in Geneva, the WHO panel of gene editing experts – which was established in December after a Chinese scientist said he had edited the genes of twin babies – said it had agreed a framework for setting future standards.

It said a central registry of all human genome editing research was needed “in order to create an open and transparent database of ongoing work”, and asked the WHO to start setting up such a registry immediately.

“The committee will develop essential tools and guidance for all those working on this new technology to ensure maximum benefit and minimal risk to human health,” Soumya Swamanathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said in a statement.

A Chinese scientist last year claimed to have edited the genes of twin baby girls.

News of the births prompted global condemnation, in part because it raised the ethical specter of so-called “designer babies” – in which embryos can be genetically modified to produce children with desirable traits.

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Top scientists and ethicists from seven countries called last week for a global moratorium on gene editing of human eggs, sperm or embryos that would result in such genetically-altered babies – saying this “could have permanent and possibly harmful effects on the species”.

The WHO panel’s statement said any human gene editing work should be done for research only, should not be done in human clinical trials, and should be conducted transparently.

“It is irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing.”

The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the panel’s initial plans. “Gene editing holds incredible promise for health, but it also poses some risks, both ethically and medically,” he said in a statement.

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The committee said it aims over the next two years to produce “a comprehensive governance framework” for national, local and international authorities to ensure human genome editing science progresses within agreed ethical boundaries.

Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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2020 Election

Biden tells billionaires that things wouldn’t change under his administration

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Don't worry, billionaires: your standard of living won't change under a Joe Biden administration.

That's the message the Democratic frontrunner delivered to donors Tuesday as he continued a fundraising trip in New York that saw him on Monday tell a room of wealthy Wall Streeters "you guys are great" and ask a Trump-loving supermarket magnate for support.

In Biden's comments Tuesday, the former vice president told a room of 100 of the New York financial elite, including bankers Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, both of whom worked in the Treasury Department under Democratic administrations, that he wasn't their enemy. According to Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Epstein, Biden took pains to separate himself from the rest of the field in his comments.

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Video of bear cub being stoned to death in Iran sparks outcry

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A video of a bear cub being stoned to death by villagers in Iran has sparked horror and prompted police action after it was posted online on June 16

In the video, taken in a forest in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran, around a dozen men are seen throwing stones at the cub, which appears to be in a state of shock. A woman can be heard calling for the group to stop. Later, some of the men are seen tying a cord around the unconscious bear and dragging it to the side of a road.

The video quickly went viral, and many online users began searching for the perpetrators.

A screenshot from the video.

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New details revealed in the bizarre story of Jerry Falwell Jr, a pool boy and ‘compromising photographs’

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The New York Times has put together a lengthy report about the utterly bizarre circumstances surrounding Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen, a former pool boy, and purportedly "compromising photographs."

The story begins in 2012 when Falwell and his wife enjoyed a stay at the Fontainebleau, a Florida luxury resort known for topless sunbathing and a massive underground nightclub described by one travel guide as "30,000 square feet of unadulterated fun."

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