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Editing life: Scientists can, but should they?

Editing life: Scientists can, but should they?

While politicians and climate scientists converged on Paris on Monday to hammer out a global-warming accord, an international cadre of geneticists, biologists, ethicists and scientific policymakers opened a three-day conference in Washington to debate the way forward on a far more subtle man-made challenge: genome editing.

The question before the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, Britain's Royal Society and the Chinese Academy of Sciences: Now that new techniques have made the editing of an organism's germ line a relative snap, should we use the new tools, and how?

Hanging in the balance are genome-editing practices that could have broad...