CRISPR or Not

I’ve heard a lot about CRISPR technology over the course of this past year, but one thing that I haven’t heard about is about the proposal of CRISPR as a protentional weapon of mass destruction by U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in his report to the Senate. Clearly it is possible that terrorists could implement CRISPR technology into their library of methods of attack, but I don’t believe that this threat of CRISPR used as a weapon of mass destruction by Islamic terrorists should be held to the same regard as other methods of attack, as there are far easier ways to cause mass destruction than bringing in scientists to work alongside the elementary educated terrorists and construct ways to disease our crops. “Nevertheless, it would be shortsighted to pretend that the possibility for harm does not exist with these new molecular tools” (Specter, 230.2)

I think that gene editing on humans in the future is inevitable. I believe that there is much good that can come from CRISPR technology, but also that before the implementation of gene editing on humans there needs to be firm guidelines and laws that prevent unnecessary editing. This is where it gets complicated for me because the big question is, where do we draw the line? If it’s okay to cure diseases that have already infected humans, then is it okay to prevent diseases before we even contract them? Is it okay to use CRISPR to make us stronger or faster? Or less susceptible to physical injury with stronger joints and muscles? These are the questions that have to be discussed and agreed upon on a global scale. I think that regardless of the law, there will always be people somewhere editing genes to make a stronger soldier or a faster Olympic sprinter. Honestly I don’t know where I stand personally, if I had to vote on human gene editing today I would vote against it. We have gone without it for 200,000 years, and controlling human traits in an embryo from a scientific laboratory is nowhere near as simple of a concept as a vaccination that helps to prevent the flu.

6 thoughts on “CRISPR or Not”

  1. You make a great point about how it would be difficult to draw a line on what you can and can’t do in terms of gene editing. I agree that it is inevitable that human gene editing is going to occur but limiting what can and can;t be done would be both difficult, and morally taxing. How can we essentially lab grow the “perfect” human and stay within the guidelines set by officials? In my opinion, the possibilities of gene editing humans to be perfect would be far too tempting for any one person to resist which could lead to many issues in the future.

  2. I agree with your statement about the use of CRISPR technologies to be use as a military or terror option; however, I don’t think they are as unrealistic as you seem to imply. Keep in mind, terror is not always to cause mass destruction, but instead to cause terror. In 911, 3000 were killed, but the actual reach was far greater. Americans were asked to, and agreed to, give up many freedoms in the Patriot Act which is just one element. The DOD is currently experimenting with insects to be used to stop blights, etc in US crops. Of course, this same technology can be used in reverse. I think we have to look long and hard at the unintended consequences of this technology should it fall into the “wrong hands”, whether those hands are from the outside or from within our own country.

    If you would like to read about the use of insects as a fix and as a weapon, you can see the article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2018/10/04/pentagon-is-studying-an-insect-army-defend-crops-critics-fear-bioweapon/?utm_term=.1275ae25c89d

  3. your first paragraph has wonderful flow and really lets you set out all the details. When you discuss the position with CRISPR and WMD I believe that the point you make about putting these things in perspective is quite ingenious. much like the risk assessment assignment you helped us understand that we can’t get bogged downed cause things sound scary, we need to know all the information first. In regards to your second paragraph I would have to agree that a set of regulations must be put in place, however i would argue that a vote for CRISPR today ensures a safer tomorrow.

  4. Your first paragraph was a fantastic take on the capabilities of CRISPR technology and all that it can possibly accomplish. You manage to bring in specifics and keep a nice flow without breaking the narrative of your paragraph. I wonder though, you didn’t go into the specifics of why this fascinates you, and I would love to hear more about your opinion on the why part of the paragraph. Your second paragraph was well thought out as well, and I agree with many of the points made throughout it. I very much agree that it is a situation that we are going to deal with not only in the future but now as well. I, too, would vote no thought I do believe that we might be able to make exceptions for such things like degenerative diseases and other harmful gene sequences that could easily be avoided to ensure the survival of young children.

  5. Great points! With the reality of the difficulty of drawing a line in the uses for CRISPR tech, I think it is even more important to recognize the difficulty in creating said necessary guidelines let alone enforcing them. Even after the time was taken to create said forms of enforcement and policy, there would undoubtedly be loopholes and corruption almost immediately as this technology would be the newest and most powerful from of control at the time if not ever. The impact of said corruption and negative intentions is unfathomable to me and I agree with you that if I were to vote for or against this technology today I would certainly vote against it. There are simply too many unknowns that I do not imagine could ever fully be answered.

  6. This was a great blog, I really enjoyed your blog! To be completely transparent I really only clicked on because of your title, very ambiguous. My favorite part was “Honestly I don’t know where I stand personally, if I had to vote on human gene editing today I would vote against it. We have gone without it for 200,000 years, and controlling human traits in an embryo from a scientific laboratory is nowhere near as simple of a concept as a vaccination that helps to prevent the flu.” This section was good for showing why you do not have an opinion one way or the other.

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