WASHINGTON - The death of Jesse Gelsinger in a gene therapy trial has brought a number of legitimate concerns to light, ranging from arrogant and sloppy clinical practices that endangered human lives to failure to establish and implement quality assurance programs. But efforts to manage the safe development of gene therapy cannot be helped when an otherwise credible scientific organization uses its academic credentials to suggest that the technology is out of control.

A report released last week by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) relies on hyperbole to bolster its unspectacular and generally reasonable policy recommendations about the oversight of medical interventions that could cause human inheritable genetic modifications (IGM).