Find out what’s happening in Science & Society around the world. Discover changes to science policy and law, new scientific study results, Supreme Court rulings, debates about nature versus nurture, and news about the sharing of genetic information.
Trade bodies are pushing for federal regulation to try to stave off a complicated patchwork of laws in different U.S. states.
Brain evidence is playing an increasing role in criminal trials in the United States. An analysis indicates that brain evidence such as MRI or CAT scans — meant to provide proof of abnormalities, brain damage, or disorder in defendants — was used for leniency in approximately five percent of murder cases at the appellate level. This number jumps to an astounding 25 percent in death penalty trials. In these cases, the evidence is meant to show that the defendant lacked the capacity to control his action. In essence, “My brain made me do it.”
Although opinions on whether to continue with germline genome editing will vary, as will the reasons for these opinions, we believe there is a moral imperative to ensure that the public, the owners of the human genome, are included in this conversation. Ultimately, a moratorium on editing in the human germline allows us time to get this right.
A new committee of the World Health Organization is calling for an international registry to track studies that edit human embryos, its members announced on 19 March. The committee formed in December in the wake of Chinese researcher He Jiankui’s announcement that he had used CRISPR to edit the embryos of twin girls. The proposed registry would also track research that results in edited adult cells. The committee is calling for journals to refuse to publish unregistered studies, and funding bodies to require grantees to register related work.
Duke University is teaming up with blockchain startup Citizens Reserve on an educational initiative aimed to develop students’ interest in blockchain technology.