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Scientists have created the first genetically modified human embryo. What does this mean to you? Led by Nikica Zaninovic, researchers at Cornell University added a green fluorescent protein to an embryo left over from assisted reproduction. They destroyed the embryo five days later. It is believed to be the first documented genetic modification of a human embryo. British newspaper The Times reports that Zaninovic’s feat was announced at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in 2007, but was only publicized recently when the United Kingdom’s reproductive technology regulators reviewed the research. The House of Commons is about to consider legislation permitting this and other controversial reproductive technologies, such as the creation of chimeras — human-animal hybrid embryos. The research raises a number of thorny ethical questions. Though adding a fluorescent protein was merely a proof-of-principle step, scientists say that modified embryos could be used to research human diseases. They say embryos wouldn’t be allowed to develop for more than a few weeks, much less implanted in a woman and brought to term. If the embryos were allowed to develop, genetic modifications — which would be permanent and passed to future generations — might prevent disease. Modifications might also be used for other reasons — physical appearance, intellectual prowess, personality — though the necessary science remains hypothetical at this point. Developing such techniques would necessarily entail trial-and-error and risk-taking with human life.