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Brazil: Germline / Embryonic

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Germline gene editing is specifically banned, but regulation is lacking.

Germline gene editing is banned by a resolution and a law. The CNS Resolution #340, finalized in 2004, allows human genetic research on somatic (adult) cells only. In 2005, Law No. 11.105 was passed, which bans genetic engineering in “human germinal cells, human zygotes and human embryos”. However, the law primarily focuses on regulating genetically modified crops and does not specify enforcement or punishment for germline gene editing.

Human gene editing is regulated by the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), which sets and enforces rules for GMO research, and by the National Committee for Ethics in Research, which is responsible for human research ethics.



Regulatory Timeline

2015: Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) Resolution #2121 passes, which allows research using discarded human embryos from assisted reproduction processes, but there is no specific mention of gene editing.

2012: The National Health Council passes CNS Resolution #466, which provides a general framework for human research ethics and requires that all research must be evaluated by an ethics committee.

2005: Brazil establishes the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) under Law No. 11.105 to set rules for laboratories and establish authorization procedures for GMO research and to provide for the punishment of administrative violations and criminal offenses. The law bans genetic engineering in human germinal cells, human zygotes and human embryos.

2004: The National Health Council passes CNS Resolution #340, explicitly banning germline gene editing

1995: Brazil passes Law No. 8.974, which establishes safety and inspection requirements for genetic engineering in agriculture and humans. The aim is to protect human, animal and plant health as well as the environment. It establishes which manipulation methods would be prohibited.

NGO Reaction


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Human / Health Gene Editing Index
Compare Regulatory Restrictions Country-to-Country

Gene editing regulations worldwide are evolving. The Gene Editing Index ratings below represent the current status of gene editing regulations and will be updated as new regulations are passed.

Colors and ratings guide

Regulation StatusRating
Determined: No Unique Regulations*10
Lightly Regulated8
Proposed: No Unique Regulations†6
Ongoing Research, Regulations In Development5
Highly Regulated4
Mostly Prohibited2
Limited Research, No Clear Regulations1
Lightly Regulated: Gene and stem cell therapies regulated with minimal restrictions and requirements.
*Determined: No Unique Regulations: Gene and stem cell therapies regulated as phamaceuticals with no additional restrictions.

†Proposed: No Unique Regulations: Decrees under consideration for gene and stem cell therapies that would not require unique regulations beyond current restrictions on pharmaceuticals.

Gene editing of adult human cells, including gene therapy and stem cell therapy, that is used to treat and cure disease. Recent breakthroughs include CAR T-cell therapy, which uses patients’ own immune cells to treat their cancer.
Gene editing of the human embryo or germline that results in genetic changes that are passed down to the next generation. This type of gene editing is the most controversial because changes are inherited and because it could theoretically be used to create “designer babies”. A Chinese scientist announced in 2018 that he had successfully edited twins that were brought to term. International backlash from the announcement has resulted in China and other countries working to clarify regulations on germline gene editing.

Rating by Country / Region
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Country / RegionTherapeuticGermlineHuman Rating
New Zealand402
Central America111
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Gene editing is a set of techniques that can be used to precisely modify the DNA of almost any organism. It is being used for applications in human health, gene drives and agriculture. There are numerous gene-editing tools besides CRISPR-Cas 9, which gets most of the attention because it is a comparatively easy tool to use.

Gene editing does not usually involve transgenics – moving ‘foreign’ genes between species. It also refers to a specific technique in contrast to the general term GMO, which is scientifically ambiguous, as genetic modification is a process not a product. Most gene editing involves creating new products by deleting very small segments of DNA (sometimes in agriculture called Site-Directed Nuclease 1 or SDN-1 techniques), which can silence a gene or change a gene’s activity. Countries are evaluating whether or not to regulate this type of gene editing, since it is so similar to natural mutations. The GLP’s Gene Editing Index ratings reflect the regulatory status of SDN-1 techniques, which are the most liberally regulated and will generate most products in the near term.

To develop different products, gene editing can change larger segments of DNA or add DNA from other species (a form of transgenics sometimes in agriculture called SDN-2 or SDN-3 techniques). While many countries are not regulating or lightly regulating SDN-1 techniques, most are moving toward tightly regulating or even restricting SDN-2 and SDN-3.

For more background on the various gene editing SDN techniques, read background articles here and here.