A recent headline in the United Kingdom’s Independent shouts that the first genetically modified human embryos could be created in Britain in just a few weeks.
The article by Steve Connor reported that scientists have submitted a proposal to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government’s fertility regulatory body, asking to edit the genes of “leftover” IVF embryos to try to treat infertility. And, on Feb. 1, it was announced that the researchers were given permission to move forward.
The Independent headline is meant to shock and surprise, but if you are someone who is even remotely following recent advances in genetic engineering, this headline should leave you scratching your head. The “first” genetically modified human embryos?
Even if you don’t follow genetic-engineering research, you may have seen a headline from 2014 claiming that the first genetically modified babies are now graduating from high school, or an article from 2001, titled “World’s First GM Babies Born,” that made its way around social media in 2012.
So which is it? Are the first genetically modified embryos about to be made? Or has that genie already escaped the bottle?
It depends on how you define “genetically modified.”
Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly