Support The Moscow Times!

‘Create a New Society’: Russian Lawmakers Order Gene-Editing Tech

Alexander Avilov / Moskva News Agency

Russian lawmakers have ordered a study on assisted human reproduction, including a cutting-edge and controversial gene-editing technology that would create a “new type of society.”

New gene-editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 have made it possible to rearrange the genetic code much more precisely and at lower costs than before. A Chinese scientist caused outrage last year with a claim to have “gene-edited” babies, while a Russian biologist has this year declared plans to modify the genomes of human embryos and implant them in women.

The State Duma’s central office placed an 8.97 million ruble ($134,500) contract on the Russian government’s procurement website Friday which seeks expert analysis on the “nuances” of assisted reproduction by Nov. 30.

“Study the possibilities of conflict-free development of a new generation of technologies for the use of assisted reproductive technologies (genome editing, metabolism management during pregnancy, etc.) to create a new ... type of society,” reads a section of the order.

The contract’s winner will be required to develop the concept of assisted reproductive technology “as a breakthrough of the new century and the basis for the formation of new ideas about professional activity in the current millennium.”

World Health Organization experts said this year that a central registry of all human genome-editing research was needed “in order to create an open and transparent database of ongoing work.”

This spring, Russia launched a 111 billion ruble (US$1.6 billion) federal program to create 10 new varieties of gene-edited crops and animals by 2020 — and an additional 20 by 2027.

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.

… we have a small favor to ask.

As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just 2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.


Read more