Over the last three years, a new genetic engineering technology has exploded on the scene in biology. CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing has been called revolutionary, game-changing and transformative, due to the fact that it is easier, faster and more powerful, precise, and efficient than any tool we’ve had for making changes to the genome.
CRISPR seems poised to revolutionize the way we study and treat a whole range of genetic diseases. It also will have profound impact on genetic engineering of agricultural crops and animals, and on the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. And the fact that it could allow us to make permanent changes in the human genome means we might influence human evolution itself.
The power and potential of CRISPR means it raises as many ethical issues as scientific ones, as society will have to deal with new questions about whether we’re wise enough to use the power over the genome that CRISPR provides.
Dr. Udo Schüklenk, Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics in the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s University on CBC’s Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald. Schüklenk has engaged with questions around the ethics of using CRISPR to alter the human genome, and, more widely, its use in the agricultural and natural world.
Listen to the full show on CBC’s Quirks and Quarks.