One example of a possible advancement in science using CRISPR technology is the ability to modify the genome of animals to prevent the spread of disease. Michael Specter discusses this in his National Geographic article. In the article, Specter details the possibilities of eliminating the transmission of many horrible diseases carried by mosquitos. Using CRISPR and Cas9, it is theoretically possible to forever prevent the spread of Malaria, Lika, and many other diseases. The thought of changing animal DNA goes far beyond this however, as we could apply the same technology to domestic animals to improve the efficiency of farms and ranches. It is not uncommon for domestic herds to become infected with a multitude of diseases after contact with a wild specimen of sheep or bison. Using CRISPR, the transmission of the diseases could be prevented, raising annual yields of food as well as limiting the consumption of dangerous meats. The thought of modifying the genetics of the animal kingdom seem ominous though. Specter explains that the genetic modifications in mosquitos could be spread throughout the entire species within a few weeks, due to their short life cycle. If the unforeseen consequences of modifying animal genetics on a grand scale turned out to be horrible, it is quite frightening to think of a species wide mutation that could change entire ecosystems forever.

I believe gene editing should be done on humans. To me, this seems to be just another stepping stone in the grand path of scientific development. Whenever new, groundbreaking technologies are first discovered, society seems to fear them. Then, years later, the technologies are so integrated into our everyday life that we hardly seem to notice them. Furthermore, I believe that we are capable of avoiding extreme misuse of CRISPR technology and focusing on the positive, constructive use. This is somewhat similar to the development of nuclear technologies.

Leave a Reply