China is about to introduce a new gene editing regulation in humans. A draft of the country's new Civil Code lists human genes and embryos in a section on personal rights to be protected. Accordingly, experiments with genes in adults or embryos that endanger human health or violate ethical standards can be considered a violation of a person's fundamental rights.
Legislation says that anyone who manipulates genes in humans is responsible for what happens to a person. "The law makes it clear that those who research human genes and embryos can not endanger human health or violate ethics," said Zhang Peng, a criminal lawyer at Beijing Wuzi University.
China has revised its Civil Code ̵
The revised Civil Code adds experiments with human genes or embryos under the section of the law that guarantees the right of a person to exercise physical well-being, freedom, privacy and dignity. According to Zhang, this is the first time genome-related regulations have been incorporated into the Civil Code.
If the new Codex came into force as he thought about his experiments, it might have stopped him, Zhang says. Although his work has resulted in the twin girls being less ill with HIV, it is possible that he accidentally increased their susceptibility to other infectious diseases. However, there is also the danger that his experiments will cause unintentional changes in their genome, as is often the case in gene editing experiments in the laboratory where the twins are susceptible to genetic disease. Under these terms, such gene editing experiments would be illegal, Zhang says.
In March, the Department of Health also drew up regulations requiring scientists to seek approval prior to processing human embryos and imposed penalties for those who violated the rules.
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