The Senate introduced this resolution to acknowledge both the potential benefits and harms of human genome editing technology, but also to “oppose” the controversial experiments done by He Jiankui in 2018 to genetically engineer human embryos to make now-born twins immune to human immunodeficiency virus. This resolution would also support the continuation of maintaining both an international commission regarding human germline editing, and an international consensus regarding the limits of ethical clinical use between the United States, other nations, and international organizations like the United Nations.
In 2015, the United States’s National Academies of Science, the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, and the Chinese Academies of Science hosted the International Summit on Human Gene Editing (ISHGE). The consensus from the summit was that germline editing should not be done until safety issues are resolved and society at large is able to accept its application.
Genetically engineering human embryos requires the technology CRISPR-Cas9, which uses a protein and a “guide” to selectively alter the genes of a person or embryo. This powerful technology prompted the establishment of international guidelines via the ISHGE, along with other policy initiatives.