CRISPR‐Cas9‐based gene‐editing technology has fuelled a debate about the implications of the possibility of genome editing in the human germline , . Scientists have suggested how this technology could be regulated and evaluated to prevent misuse or abuse. Such discussions amongst scientists are not new: in the early days of recombinant DNA technology, scientists called attention to the potential benefits and risks of this new tool to genetically modifying living organisms. This development led to the famous conference held at Asilomar State Beach in California, in 1975. Forty years later, scientists and experts from ethics and law convened in Napa Valley, California, to discuss the scientific, societal and ethical implications of applying genome editing technologies in the human germline. The Napa group explicitly regarded their meeting as being in the tradition of Asilomar, to discuss guidelines and self‐regulation for biotechnological developments.
Emerging technologies in biomedical research often touch on ethical and societal questions that cannot be answered by scientists alone
Emerging technologies in biomedical research often touch on ethical and societal questions that cannot be answered by scientists alone. Thus, the inclusion of other experts in discussions about regulation and public engagement  has become increasingly important to take into account the wide spectrum of implications; and for maintaining public confidence in the regulatory instruments to control the use of novel technologies. Here, we discuss the opportunities and limitations of self‐regulation for emerging biotechnologies based on a comparison of the Asilomar conference and the Napa meeting and propose a model that combines self‐regulation with national and international governance in the context of using gene‐editing technologies in the human germline.
From Asilomar to Napa
The paradigm case of scientific self‐regulation in the biosciences is the above‐mentioned “Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA”, which was held after restriction enzymes and …
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