The ethics committee of the French national biomedical research agency (INSERM) has put forward recommendations to foster responsible use of genome-editing technologies (see, such as CRISPR–Cas9. This follows a December 2015 meeting of the US National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the UK Royal Society to produce guidelines for gene editing in humans.

Our recommendations include setting up a European committee of experts from different disciplines to assess the scope, efficacy and safety of CRISPR–Cas9, and reviewing the ban on all genetic modifications to the germline (Article 13 of the Oviedo Convention). The United States, China and some countries in Europe have not endorsed this ban (T. Ishii Trends Mol. Med. 21, 473–481; 2015).

Other proposals include assessing the freedom of research and medical ethics at European institutions in the context of national and international initiatives, and launching a monitoring group of relevant stakeholders to promote open debate on the societal aspects of these technologies (see, for example, Nature 522, 20–24; 2015).

These measures should assist translation into European and international legislation within the next couple of years.