Bedazzled Genes: Yes or No?

Using CRISPR technologies to eradicate disease from disease-spreading mosquitoes could prevent millions of deaths due to dungue fever, Zika, and other viruses. Anthony James, using CRISPR technology, could rearrange the DNA of mosquitoes carrying such diseases so they could no longer transmit the disease. By altering the genes of mosquitoes to create sterile offspring, soon enough the species would be altered to no longer carry the diseases. However, altering the genes could result in a shift of the pathogens that lead to “unanticipated diseases” that would create a potentially bigger problem. There would be no cures or protections in place for such diseases and it could lead to a whole new outbreak. (Specter)

Gene editing poses many potential benefits to human survival and quality of life. However, the negative consequences that could result outweigh the positives too heavily for gene editing to be risked. The physical consequences are unpredictable and potentially irreversible. Down the line, after x amount of people have been genetically altered around the world and it goes on and on, how can the hazards be accurately predicted? There’s not enough information on the consequences to argue that taking the chance is worth it. On the other hand, I find the social aspect to be slightly more predictable in a bad way. As Darnovsky points out, where would the line be drawn to use this technology for strictly medical purposes without allowing it to lead into designer babies and other elitist agendas. (Darnovsky p.4) Even if it were strictly medical, those able to afford such a luxury would inevitably be those financially able and it could lead a “genetically superior” 1% anyhow.

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