Genome editing: an ethical review


Published 30/09/2016

Short guide front cover Page 01
Genome editing techniques such as the CRISPR-Cas9 system are transforming many areas of biological research.
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Background and method of working

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics commissioned a background paper on genome editing in late 2014, and held a scoping workshop on ethical and regulatory challenges in genome editing in April 2015.

The Working Group on Genome Editing was established in September 2015. The Working Group met five times over a period of 10 months. In March 2016, Sciencewise and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics also co-hosted a workshop on genome editing and public dialogue.

In addition to in-house research, the Working Group held an open call for evidence, and a series of fact-finding meetings and research interviews with external stakeholders and invited experts to further inform its deliberations. Further details of each of these aspects of the working group’s work are given below and in Appendix 2 of the review. The Council would like to express its gratitude to all those involved for the valuable contribution they made to the project.

Call for evidence

The working group launched an open call for evidence in November 2015, which ran until February 2016. 54 responses were received, of which 15 were submitted by individuals and 39 on behalf of organisations.

Responses to the call for evidence




The Working Group also benefited from informal correspondence with the following organisations:

  • Hindu Council UK
  • Muslim Council of Britain
  • Office of the Chief Rabbi
  • Sikh Missionary Society UK

Respondents who submitted published material

The Working Group also received submissions of published material from two individuals and two organisations

  • Catherine Kendig
  • Sarah Hartley, University of Nottingham
  • Friends of the Earth Australia
  • Greenpeace

Fact finding meetings and research interviews

As part of its work, the Working Group held a series of fact-finding meetings with experts from a range of fields, including the following:

  • Perspectives on genome technologies: 11 November 2015
  • Genome editing in plant science: 11 November 2015
  • Genome editing and animal research: 25 January 2016
  • Biomedical research and applications: 24 February 2016

More details about these meetings and who attended are available in Appendix 1 of the review.

External review

An earlier version of this report was reviewed by six individuals with expertise in disciplines relevant to different aspects of the project.