(The Conversation) – If you want to conduct groundbreaking but contentious biological research, go to China. Last year, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced he had created the world’s first gene-edited human babies, shocking the world at a time when such practice is illegal in most leading scientific nations. More recently, US-based researcher Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte revealed he had produced the world’s first human-monkey hybrid embryo in China to avoid legal issues in his adopted country.
Yet if China is fast becoming the world capital of controversial science, it is not alone in producing it. More babies produced using the “CRISPR” gene-editing technology are now planned by a scientist in Russia, where another researcher is also hoping to conduct the world’s first human head transplant. And Japan has recently lifted its own ban on human-animal hybrids.
The world is rapidly moving towards a two-tier system of cutting-edge medical research, broadly divided between countries with minimal regulation and those that refuse to allow anything but the earliest stages of this work. The consequences of this split are likely to be significant, even potentially affecting your own access to healthcare.