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A researcher watches the CRISPR process. Photo: Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Following the claims that a Chinese scientist has used CRISPR to create genetically modified twins, the co-inventors of the gene-editing tool, Feng Zhang and Jennifer Doudna, released separate statements that urged caution and called for a moratorium on editing the genes of embryos.

Why it matters: Feng's and Doudna's concerns mirror those of other scientists and bioethicists, namely that the Chinese experiment is not transparent and that gene-editing standards should be set before babies' DNA is altered.

What they're saying: Feng asked for a full "moratorium on implantation of edited embryos ... until we have come up with a thoughtful set of safety requirements first," according to MIT Technology Review.

  • Doudna said in a statement the claims have not been verified in peer-reviewed journals, but if the Chinese CRISPR experiment were confirmed, scientists should "confine the use of gene editing in human embryos to settings where a clear unmet medical need exists, and where no other medical approach is a viable option."

Go deeper

59 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

The perils of organizing underground

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers see one bright spot as far-right extremists turn to private and encrypted online platforms: Friction.

Between the lines: For fringe organizers, those platforms may provide more security than open social networks, but they make it harder to recruit new members.