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China drafts new rules to supervise biotechnology research

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to biotechnology.

 

China drafts new rules to supervise biotechnology research

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Draft rules, gene- editing technology- overview.
  • For Mains: Significance and the need for these rules, concerns associated with latest developments in gene- editing.

 

Context: China has drafted new rules to supervise biotechnology research.

 

Highlights of the draft:

  1. It proposes fines and bans against rogue scientists.
  2. It proposes to classify technology used for extracting genetic materials, gene editing, gene transfer and stem cell research as “high risk”.
  3. Scientists can be fined 10 to 20 times the amount of “illegal income” earned from unauthorised research and be banned from their field of work for six months to one year.
  4. If the circumstances are serious, their medical practice licence shall be revoked and the individual shall not engage in clinical research for life.

 

What necessitated this?

Recently a Chinese researcher caused a global outcry by claiming that he gene-edited babies.

  • He announced in November that the world’s first gene-edited babies — twin girls — were born that same month after he altered their DNA to prevent them from contracting HIV by deleting a certain gene under a technique known as CRISPR.
  • The claim shocked scientists worldwide, raising questions about bioethics and putting a spotlight on China’s lax oversight of scientific research.

Sources: the hindu.

Main Question: Discuss about the CRISPR gene editing technology and the concerns raised by it.