Ethics

NIH and experts call for global moratorium on editing human embryos

Illustration of a DNA strand with the middle link having a no-go sign
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins and top science and ethics experts in the U.S. and 6 other countries today called for an international 5-year moratorium on editing human germlines, or the type of genes that are heritable.

Why it matters: Spurred by the recent discovery of twin babies born after being edited as embryos in China, scientists and ethicists have debated what steps should happen next — and these experts say a temporary moratorium is needed until it's no longer believed that "the risk of failing to make the desired change or of introducing unintended mutations (off-target effects) is still unacceptably high."

Attorney General Bill Barr won't recuse himself from Mueller probe

Attorney General William Barr.
Attorney General William Barr. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to a statement Monday from Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.

"Following General Barr’s confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that General Barr should not recuse himself from the special counsel’s investigation. Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse."

Why it matters: Barr came under scrutiny when he was first nominated by President Trump when it was revealed he wrote an unsolicited memo to Justice Department officials criticizing the premise of Mueller’s investigation into obstruction of justice. He told lawmakers during his Senate confirmation hearing last month that he would make the final decision on whether to recuse himself from the investigation, but pledged to follow DOJ guidelines and make public as much information from the final Mueller report as legally possible.

More stories loading.