The Point: Altering Our DNA for Good?

It’s a brave new world, after all.

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CRISPR is a technology that allows us to alter, or edit, DNA, including human DNA. Last year a Chinese doctor reportedly used CRISPR to genetically edit human embryos. More recently, I learned of a guy selling do-it-yourself gene hacking kits online (I’m not kidding). Once again, technology is far outpacing our ethics.

And now, according to NPR, doctors in Tennessee are attempting to use CRISPR to heal an African American woman suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia. The process could take years. It might work. It might not. She might even get worse. Still, she’s willing to take the risk and able to give her informed consent.

But embryos aren’t able to consent to being the Guinea pigs of our scientific imaginations. They are not informed as to the risk to them and future generations.

Even more, this experimentation is being done in a culture that’s lost track of the difference between healing disease and enhancing humanity. Now that the CRISPR cat is out of the bag, it will be almost impossible to control.

 

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