Similar to the genetic modification of animals, human genetic modification involves directly manipulating the genome via molecular engineering techniques. It’s used typically to alleviate a medical condition which a person has. The genetic modification of humans comes in two forms; “somatic” and “germline”.
Somatic Genetic Modification
Somatic genetic modification seeks to make changes to the genes in some cells of an existing person and would usually be used to alleviate a medical condition. Also known as gene therapy, this technology is beginning to reach the stage of clinical practice, but it is costly and can only be used for a handful of conditions.
Germline Genetic Modification
This form of genetic modification, when used, would change the genes in eggs and sperm or even early embryos. Any alteration made using this form of genetic engineering would, therefore, be passed down to every subsequent generation. Germline genetic modification has never been attempted in humans and could be potentially highly consequential. Over 40 countries have banned this form of genetic modification by law, and the Council of Europe has banned it via an international treaty which is binding.