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At one of our meetings we  discussed a story I found  that the UK regulator has approved a new research technique that involves “editing” the genes of Human The Platform_ImageEmbryos. Our questions were this to start with

What do we think of this?

  • Is it necessary to conduct research of this type?
  • Is it science for the sake of it? – Because we can?
  • Do we believe there are risks? Science fiction scenarios?
  • If there are risks, do the possible benefits outweigh those risks?
  • I’m sure there are many other aspects to this, please bring them with you.

However, this is what was discussed – these are, deliberately, bullet points so you can explore your own thoughts feelings and values in regard to them!

  • At what point is the embryo life and is it ok to take life to save lives?
  • When does life begin?
  • They’re only using embryos that would be unlikely to survive anyway.
  • How far do scientists go (do we allow them to go?)
  • This does feel very close to science fiction
  • Designer children?
  • If we stop scientists experimenting then, effectively, we halt their research at a certain point, they, maybe, can’t make discoveries that would be hugely valuable to humanity.
  • Do we have the same issues with IVF? People who can’t have IVF treatment may not be able to have children.
  • Who’s funding this research and why?
  • Do we trust them or their motives?
  • Are scientists merely doing this research because they can?
  • Again, do we trust them?
  • Stem cell research has been very useful in helping treat very ill children
  • how much of this has already been researched by the military?
  • Where has the Zika(?) virus come from? Fair to say that none of us had heard of it last year.
  • Is this kind of research the only way to find out what the scientists want to find out? Sadly we’re not in a position to know – where are the scientists in Birmingham?
  • We are seeing the rise of treatments for illnesses being tailored for individuals rather than the same treatment being given to all.
  • Is this wrong?
  • Is is sustainable?
  • Did God intend man to discover this sort of stuff – of course, if you don’t believe in God, you would consider that question irrelevant. You might also argue that, we are then he did???
  • What boundaries are we pushing? Do the scientists even have any clear idea of this?
  • Would we give the go-ahead for this sort of research?
  • They’re only using foetuses BUT when people miscarry, they never talk about losing a foetus, they talk about losing a baby.
  • Would we want a better understanding of the what the scientists know? Probably.
  • Has some of this already been researched/discovered somewhere but covered up as it was considered going too far/wrong, maybe even evil?  Of course, we will never know.
  • Just feels like a step over a threshold – this is how things get broken down, one small step at a time – sleepwalking to oblivion?
  • Do we actually want to cure EVERYTHING? Sound very harsh BUT disease is a form of population control.
  • Again, who is driving this research and, indeed, medical research generally and in whose interests?
  • Is anyone taking a whole world view. There are a lot of things in the world that could be “fixed” more easily and more cheaply that would save a lot more lives than the cost of this research.
  • It feels like expensive research that will only ever benefit the top tier of society and only 1st world society at that!
  • economics of who can afford the treatment.
  • Dawkins said that “down’s syndrome children have now quality of life” – if i’m honest, I’m not sure of the context of this statement BUT …….
  • Could it lead to the film “The Island” with humans being cloned for spare parts?
  • Finally, due to time, the questions scientists, and indeed anyone, will ask will be different depending on your “moral compass” and, indeed, whether you have any moral absolutes at all.