BEIJING — A member of the audience shouted “shame on you” from the back of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong as He Jiankui presented research that he proudly claimed led to the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies. That initial reaction two weeks ago was reinforced by official responses of a similar tenor from the Chinese government and scientific community.

The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences quickly said He had violated laws, regulations, and ethical norms, while an official with the government science ministry called his research “shocking and unacceptable.” More than 100 Chinese scientists signed a blunt letter denouncing He’s experimentation on humans as “crazy.”

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  • All the backlash generated by this story is the most important, if not the only, reason why no one else has done (or claimed to have done) it before. The knowledge and technology to do it has been available for at least the past twenty years.

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