Peril Resides In The Promise Of Gene Editing

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Publish Date:
December 15, 2017
Author(s):
  • Gardels, Nathan
Source:
The Washington Post
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Summary

Of all the prodigious advances in technology taking place today, none is more profound — and troubling — for the human condition than the advent of gene editing and synthetic biology.

Corrective intervention in the human genome promises the elimination of genetically induced disease, bolstering of the human immune system, and extended longevity. As Nobel laureate and former president of Caltech David Baltimore said to The WorldPost in the video above, we already understand enough to create humans in which a range of ailments are edited out — and scientists have only been at it for less than a century.

If ethics is behind the curve of science in human engineering, Stanford professor Henry T. Greely also sees regulation as lacking when it comes to gene editing of non-human life forms.

“I support genome editing but it needs regulation, both to minimize possible risks and to reassure the public about its safety,” he writes. “And any regulation must be nuanced, to distinguish between different levels of risks in different uses. Editing Dalmatians in a kennel is more controllable than releasing millions of edited mosquitoes; modifying laboratory pigs to take out certain embedded viruses is safer than editing mousepox. Our current ‘system’ does not come close to those goals.”

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