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Natalie de Souza, The New York Review of Books


Even so, there may be reasons not to go ahead with heritable genome editing. This is a central concern of Françoise Baylis’s Altered Inheritance, which focuses, more so than the other books discussed here, on its societal consequences. Baylis … offers an authoritative, comprehensive guide to the ethical issues around CRISPR, and her central message is clear: heritable human genome editing shouldn’t be treated as inevitable, and the decision to undertake it should be a collective one. She takes to task scientists who believe they need not answer for the societal consequences of their research and argues that we should adopt heritable genome editing only if it results in a more just and equitable world.

Review here.

Samantha Noll, International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics


Altered Inheritance is essential reading for anyone interested in genome editing and its ethical and social implications. […] Françoise Baylis expertly grapples with the sticky normative impacts of genome editing in Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing. The publication provides an excellent overview of the current state of the technology and the ethical, social, and policy implications of genomics. It also provides the foundation for a “new bioethics” that scholars dedicated to socially just science, policy, and normative analysis may find illuminating.

Review here.

Donna Dickenson, The New Bioethics

‘I don’t want to live in a world where a select, privileged few are able to inscribe their privilege in their DNA and thereby exacerbate unfair class division and other social injustices. I want for all of us to reflect on whether heritable genome editing is a boon or a threat’ (p. 8). Ending her book’s prologue with these words, the eminent Canadian bioethicist Francoise Baylis calls for an informed and socially inclusive debate on whether it is right or wrong to permanently alter the human genome through new biotechnologies.

Review here.

Robert Cook-Deegan, Issues in Science and Technology

Baylis’s book, Altered Inheritance, is a plea for broadening the debate beyond a case-by-case technical assessment of risk and potential benefit. She takes seriously the second criterion for moving ahead: societal consensus. Her approach is philosophical and historical. It is a blow-by-blow account of some of the seminal events, and Baylis marshals her arguments effectively. That is not a backhanded compliment, but rather a real expression of pleasure at her passion and presentation.

Review here.

Kat Eschner, University Affairs


When Françoise Baylis got her start in academia, genome editing was still in the future. Today, Dr. Baylis is a leading scholar in the ethics of the biotech revolution. After nearly three decades of working with academics, medical professionals and policy-makers, the philosopher has turned her attention to explaining the genome-editing revolution to a general audience – a shift that’s come with some reflection on the career that’s gotten her to this point.

Review here.

Françoise Baylis, Rorotoko


In exploring questions about the ethics and governance of human genome editing, I discuss the potential benefits, harms and wrongs of this technology. In this discussion I pay attention to the unique potential harms to women research participants. I then invite the reader to consider: the merits of ‘slow science’, which is about taking time to reflect on the BIG questions; the role of experts in policy making; the value of a global moratorium on heritable human genome editing; and the importance of broad societal consensus in deciding where to from here.

Review here.

Gina Maranto, Center for Genetics and Society


In the most groundbreaking chapters of Altered Inheritance, Baylis puts forward the case for adopting “slow science” and crafts a typology for ethics drawn from Roger Pielke, Jr.’s widely celebrated The Honest Broker (2003).

Slow science, inspired by the slow food movement, contends that the highest aim for science is to make socially relevant contributions. Slow science thus requires that decisions regarding funding and legitimate lines of inquiry must be undertaken with public input; scientists must “take the time required to consult, to deliberate, to question, to investigate, to interpret, and to respond.” While scientists might balk at such restraints, they owe the public (who, in many cases, fund their work) answers to fundamental questions about the aims and uses of their experiments.

Review here.

Adam Hayden, Science Magazine


With Altered Inheritance, bioethicist Françoise Baylis has authored a vivid call to action that “aims to bridge the divides between theory, science, politics, and practice” in response to increased public awareness and scientific applications of CRISPR/Cas9 technology. She achieves her aim in this timely and important book.

Review here.