In the beginning of June 2016 it was announced that more than 150 scientists gathered in Harvard University setting a plan to create synthetically an entire human genome within the next 10 years. The scale of the plan is comparable to that of Human Genome Project (HGP), which started in 1990 and subsequently led to decoding of the entire human genome. After the human genome decoding, the goal of the new project is to achieve human genome writing i.e. HGP-write.
In the series Law in New Territories of the Bulgarian National Radio Dr. Stoyan Stavru elaborates on the dimensions of this scientific ambition and shares his views on the potential moral and legal challenges of this promising revolutionary instrument:
“The genetic programing will start to look more and more like a new form of parenthood. Unlike the traditional parents who are just human genome readers, the parents-programmers (i.e. human genome editors) will be responsible for the editions they make – the editing invariably triggers responsibility as in its essence it creates (i.e. designs and programs) a human being. Therefore, two type of liability are likely to emerge:
- Contents liability – regarding the choice of human genes written and included in the designed human genome (genetic design), and
- Format liability – regarding the execution of the chosen combination by the very writing of a certain human genome (genetic engineering).
With that regard, a number of intriguing questions arise, which are yet to receive their legal regulation. For example, the question about the use of a human genome to create another in a way, which effectively leads to cloning (i.e. creating a human being with a genome identical to that of another person who is still alive) or the question about the legal effect of the death on a person’s genome (i.e. whether it becomes open-code human genome or should remain private property as a part of the family legacy).”
The entire interview is available in Bulgarian at: http://bnr.bg/post/100711644/d-r-stoan-stavru-sled-razgadavaneto-na-choveshkia-genom-idva-vreme-toi-da-bade-opisan
Source: Bulgarian National Radio