CRISPR: The Controversy of the Future

Perhaps the most divisive issue associated with the advent of CRISPR technology is the potential for human gene customization. More specifically, the potential to remove or neutralize certain genetic diseases so that they are not passed on to future generations. The benefits of this are fairly obvious, and certainly exhilarating. Think of a world where diseases like cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Tay-Sachs disease are no longer a problem, a place where children are always born healthy, despite their parent’s genetics. It’s a wonderful image, and certainly a distinct possibility, but one which is not possible without accepting certain risks, the most damning one I can think of being the possibility for a serious case of socio-trophic cascade. By modifying the human genome we would be tinkering with the building blocks of human biology, and one small mistake or overlooked consequence could have far reaching effects, particularly if it is a mistake that will not be evident for generations to come.

That having been said, I don’t necessarily believe that CRISPR technology should not be applied to humans. As stated in most of the arguments we read, the benefits are far too great not to at least consider the notion. I personally believe that someday in the future genetic modification will be widely implemented on humans, and I think that so long as the proper amount of research is done, the right limits are set, and only trained professionals are allowed to handle the equipment, this will not be an inherently wrong development. Frankly, people are dying from these diseases every day, and an opportunity to do something mustn’t be passed up lightly. It may be a process fraught with risk, but one must take risks to change world, and that which is truly worth doing is rarely easy.