With Great CRISPR Power Comes Great Responsibility

The example presented by Michael Specter regarding the modification of mosquitoes to eliminate the transmission of malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, and Zika virus strikes me as especially exciting and terrifying. I have heard a lecture on the use of CRIPSR on mosquitoes before, but this article supplemented that information by giving statistics that point towards the immense number of lives that could be saved across the globe with the success of this research (Specter states that yellow fever transmitted by mosquitoes has killed millions across the globe and dengue fever infects 400 million people each year (Specter, p. 1). However, one thing I could not help but consider was that although CRISPR technology certainly has the power to save millions of lives each year, our planet is consistently being suffocated due to the secondary effects of over-population, and if CRIPSR were to continue as a revolutionary medical technique, these effects will only increase in frequency and intensity. Ultimately, genetically modifying mosquitoes to save millions of lives appears fantastic, but at the same time, it potentially will come around to hurt us at the same time.

When the question shifts to concerns about human gene editing, I think that CRISPR should be used under several circumstances. Firstly, CRIPSR should only be used to eliminate physically and mentally harmful genes present in embryos, as to save parents and children from further suffering. I also think that consent would certainly need to play a very important role in this decision-making process as well, meaning that the parents must be consulted and approve any changes made to their potential baby. I do not think CRISPR technology should be taken to the point of use for designer babies, as I believe this would have unforeseen consequences on the social and cultural foundations within humans. Generally, CRIPSR technology should be constrained to areas of need without expanding to the area of want.

1 thought on “With Great CRISPR Power Comes Great Responsibility”

  1. Hi Logan! Your first paragraph is very well written. I think it’s cool that you’ve attended a CRISPR lecture because it’s not something I personally knew much about before Professor Reidy’s lectures. I agree with you, I found the Specter article discussing the ability to eliminate certain pathogens fascinating, and it really is amazing that we have the potential to do that. I also think you bring up a very interesting point when you mention the issue with eliminating diseases becoming the problem of over-population. It’s not fun to think about, but if we were to eradicate dengue fever, we would run out of room on the planet far sooner than we think. I do also think that by eliminating certain diseases, we will have more opportunities for people to innovate and invent. Your second paragraph is also well done. I agree that CRISPR can be used for good to create more healthy babies, and parents should all have consent, but what happens when a designer baby grows up enough to understand that they were really a product of scientists and parents deciding what their traits should be? I wonder what they will think about that?

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