A Democrat-led spending panel in the U.S. House of Representatives has dropped a provision that banned embryo editing with the intention of creating a baby. The draft bill is still moving through the legislative process, however, and Republicans will likely push to restore the language.
The ban was first added to the law that funded the U.S. government in 2016. It bars the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from considering any clinical trial application “in which a human embryo is intentionally created or modified to include a heritable genetic modification.” Although a different “rider” bars the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding human germline editing—or the genetic modification of sperm, eggs, or embryos—such work is permissible with private funding. However, researchers would need FDA approval for a clinical trial.
A 2020 draft spending bill approved on 23 May by the House appropriations subcommittee that funds the FDA does not contain the rider, as CQ first reported yesterday. A Democratic aide speaking on background told ScienceInsider: “The provision was dropped because it was inserted in private 3 years ago and has never been subject to public debate. We believe this provision could limit important scientific research and, if Congress chooses to prohibit such research, that should be done in the light of day.”