Haven’t You Seen GATTACA?

GMOs are undoubtedly a double edged sword when it comes to CRISPR technology. In regards to agriculture, GMOs easily have the potential to alleviate world hunger by fortifying foods to be more plentiful and nutrient dense. For example, the agricultural program at MSU has developed protein fortified peas that could be cultivated to feed chronically protein deficient populations. However, beginning with plants often leads to modifications in animals as well as people. As discussed in the National Geographic piece, genetically modified organisms can easily change from a tool used to help humanity to a luxury used to further stratify it.

By editing our own genes, we are taking evolution into our own hands. While we may be able to prevent numerous disease through editing, we will also create numerous ethical dilemmas in doing so. This is more important than the ‘playing God’ argument, which, frankly, we’ve been doing for decades, because the ethics surrounding editing will go one to shape laws around this practice that will affect our entire population not only in health, but also in socio-economic status. A fictitious example of this is Brave New World where a person’s class, intelligence, and career is determined by genetic editing. As Darnovsky states, “in opening the door to one kind of germline modification, we are likely opening it to all kinds. Permitting human germline gene editing for any reason would likely lead to its escape from regulatory limits” (Harris and Darnovsky, 4).