South Africans have their say about heritable human genome editing

Donrich Thaldar

Donrich Thaldar

Donrich Thaldar is a full professor of law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, where he chairs the Health Law & Ethics Research Interest Group. He is currently principal investigator of the DS-I Africa Law project.

My research group conducted a public engagement study on heritable human genome editing (HHGE) among South Africans. This study was the first public engagement study on HHGE in Africa. Read more about the results of this study in our article published in PLOS ONE.

One thing was clear: The participants did not view the human genome as sacred. (I reflect on this here.) Instead, the participants viewed HHGE—once it is proven to be safe and effective for use in humans—as a practical tool to bring about valuable social goods. Interestingly, the participants proposed that the South African government should actively invest resources to ensure everyone has equal access to HHGE technology for these purposes.

Dr Bonginkosi Shozi and I analyse this aspect in more detail in this article, recently published in the American Journal of Bioethics.