In Michael Specter’s National Geographic article, he talks about the use of CRISPR in the editing of mosquito genes. This is incredible because this would allow scientists to completely rid these insects from being carriers of diseases that have killed millions of people. The use of CRISPR has the potential to change and save the lives of millions of people across the globe, though it could have unforeseen consequences as well. One such issue that could arise is if scientists cross genes from one species to another, which could introduce a new disease to a population that has no natural immunity to it and which could even be resistant to antibiotics. This would be catastrophic because there would be almost no way of reversing this effect and it could lead the death of quite possibly an entire species. An unintentional and irreversible extinction event. This is terrifying to scientists and many critics of the technology because this is a possibility, although this is a possibility in GMO food as well and has been for a long time. One such example is corn and how certain strains have been developed that could wipe out crops across the globe as it is so invasive and destructive. This is why genetic modification is done in remote locations, sometimes even inside of mountains, to keep these potentially dangerous GMOs locked away.
In my opinion, I don’t think gene modification should be done on humans simply because it could open the door to many other potentially morally compromising modifications. If scientists are modifying genes to stop things like cerebral palsy, who’s to say they can’t also modify physical traits in humans as well simply because they can. To restate what was discussed in my first paragraph, the modification of genes could alter human immunity to diseases and potentially lead to outbreaks or even pandemics. If extensive testing is done and it is certain that the only thing that was changed was a harmful trait, then I believe it should be left up to the people to decide if this should continue. It is a very tough topic to discuss and the moral implications are immense so it is difficult to come to a conclusion and likely will be for many years to come.