Altering the Human Genome: Mapping the Genome Editing Regulatory System in South Africa




CRISPR-Cas9, genome editing technology, policy-making, National Health Act 61 of 2003, South Africa


Novel therapeutic strategies using genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, are revolutionising the way in which diseases can be prevented and treated in the future. Consequently, a global debate has emerged around the ethical and legal implications relating to the use of such technology in research, therapy, and human reproduction. This has brought to the forefront questions regarding the extent to which current policies respond to these issues. In this paper, we provide a “map” of South African policy relating to genome editing, and illustrate how current ethical guidelines and law regulate its use. We find that the South African policy framework is marred with inconsistencies and incompleteness, and that an opportunity exists for the normative and regulatory framework governing this field of research and therapeutic application in South Africa, to be reviewed and reformed. In this paper we present certain recommendations – with the goal of informing and supporting health policy and decision-making regarding the regulation of genome editing in South Africa. We suggest that by adopting a pragmatic regulatory approach, such recommendations serve to address public concern, reflect appropriate international perspectives, and provide a firm foundation for the development of genome editing regulation in South Africa.



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Author Biography

Bonginkosi Shozi , University of KwaZulu-Natal


Doctoral Fellow, School of Law, Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal




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How to Cite

Townsend, B., & Shozi , B. . (2021). Altering the Human Genome: Mapping the Genome Editing Regulatory System in South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 24, 1–28.