There are efforts already under way by the World Health Organization and multiple national academies of science to create committees that will try to oversee what happens to the human genetic legacy.
But they don’t preclude this call for a new global body, says George Annas, director of the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health.
“We’re going to need many organizations pulling together on this one, because there really is no precedent for this,” says Annas, co-author of “Genomic Messages: How the Evolving Science of Genetics Affects Our Health, Families, and Future.”
He welcomes the proposal in Nature, though he questions the idea of letting individual countries decide an issue that affects the human gene pool at the level of the whole species.
“If they think that editing the human genome of embryos to try to make ‘a better baby,’ or a different baby, or a genetically modified baby is wrong, it’s wrong for everybody,” he says. “It’s not just wrong for my country or your country.”