Gene-Editing-Statement 2018-December 3

International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition

iGEM Foundation

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology, education and competition, and the development of an open community and collaboration.

iGEM Statement on Gene Editing

December 3, 2018

To our community,

In light of the recent news out of the International Summit on Human Genome Editing, we wanted to share our perspective as a leading organization in the synthetic biology industry.

We are stunned and disappointed by Dr. He’s actions, particularly as a former iGEM team leader. Conducting human genome engineering — and further, doing so without proper research or backing from the broader scientific community — is a clear violation of iGEM’s standards as well as those of the scientific community at large. Had this project been proposed within the iGEM competition, it would have been disqualified for violating iGEM’s policies.

Since its inception in 2003, iGEM has worked hard to instill a culture of ethics, responsibility, and safety in synthetic biology and we are incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made. Every student and project that has come through our organization has been held to the highest ethical standard, and we constantly challenge our community to consider how synthetic biology impacts people and the world around us. This incident is an anomaly and far from what we consider to be acceptable in the industry.

We at iGEM are walking away with a renewed commitment to ensure that ethics, responsibility, safety, and most of all, respect, are central components of synthetic biology. We stand with the response from the scientific community in China and abroad and we see this event as a teaching moment where everyone in the community should take away some important lessons on the importance of these values.

If this event is causing you to question or think differently about synthetic biology, we encourage you to reach out and start a conversation with the iGEM Human Practices Committee, Safety and Security Committee, the team at iGEM HQ, your peers, and iGEM Ambassadors.

To learn more about iGEM's values, click here.