One exciting thing about CRISPR technology is the possibility of using animal organs in people who are sick. Michael Specter in his 2016 National Geographic article notes that many people wait and die on organ donation lists every year. Scientists have been trying to find a way to use pig organs in humans for many years. One setback is the PERV gene in swine which can cause aids in humans. CRISPR technology has the potential to remove this gene from the pig organs and successful use these organs in people to save thousands of lives (Specter, p.3). One frightening aspect of this concept is the number of pigs that will need to be slaughtered for this. There are also many unknowns about this procedure, and people could still get infected with aids from the swine organ, or some other disease scientists do not know of yet.

We should not do gene editing on humans. Doing this type of gene manipulation is a socio-technological fix for various diseases and disabilities that can be passed on by childbirth. However, as Marcy Darnovaky points out in her 2016 National Geographic article, “far too much is unknown about issues including off-target mutations (unintentional edits to the genome), persistent editing effects, genetic mechanisms in embryonic and fetal development, and longer-term health and safety consequences” (p.3). One of the terrifying aspects of human genetic manipulation as Marcy Darnovasky (2016) points out is the possibility to “exacerbate already existing discrimination, inequality, and conflicts” (p.4). This is common with all socio-techno fixes, the possibility of unintended consequences. There is also a chance that manipulating genes to create a perfect baby may not solve the medical issues they want to fix (Ibid, p.3). The idea of living in a world like the movie Gattaca, where discrimination is based on perfect gene people is terrifying.

3 thoughts on “DNDisaster”

  1. I like your perspective on using CRISPR to help people with accepting pig heart valves and other organs. The risk of CRISPR mutations, or other unforeseen consequences are probably worth the risk, in the case of the thousands of people waiting on various donor lists around the world. I had never considered that aspect of it.

    I also agree with you that creating the perfect baby is a terribly bad idea. The thought of creating mutations within a human genome that can then be passed on through germ lines in perpetuity is absolutely horrifying to me! The discrimination, and the “perfect ideal human” would become all to real, and there would be major societal conflicts as a result. It could potentially create a world war if this were to happen.

    I like your thoughtful response and thoughts on the issue! Nice job.

  2. Nice post, Dexter! I think you supported your points very well with textual evidence. I think it is interesting that you brought up that pigs may be slaughtered for the use of their organs. I had never thought of this before, and had always assumed that there were just free pig organs laying around for use haha. I am now curious about the process of obtaining animal organs to be used in transfer. Your post’s ability to spark that curiosity speaks to your writing. I understand your opinions on editing human genes. You make very good points regarding all of the dangers of altering our DNA. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on any regulations that would be necessary if we assume that one day gene editing will become a regular thing, even if it goes against what you believe.

  3. The fact that we could remove the harmful DNA from pig organs to make it safe to be transferred over to humans is intriguing, but you bring up a good point in the fact that if we did that we’d slaughter many more pigs then than we do now. The question then would be how we could keep up the supply of pigs for this purpose and if supplying pigs specifically for this purpose is ethical or not. I also tend to agree that creating the perfect baby is a bad idea and think that the creating the perfect human being would continue to perpetrate current discriminations and quite possibly even make them worse. The cost of doing something like that is also something to ponder because if we are to make the perfect baby and therefore the perfect human, how much would it cost to do so and would it then be considered a necessity.

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