The Ethical Problem of CRISPR?
Is society going to welcome a technology with such power?
CRISPR is becoming a demanding technology. Experimental trials are going to be held in the coming year, but is society welcoming the most important scientific discovery of our generation?
The opening of this new technology has to lead to questions of equality and justice. For example, who has the potential opportunity to access such an effective technology and what would the reasonable pricing be?
Is it safe?
While the experimental trial is beginning the following year, the clinical trial on animals has proven to be satisfactory.
But is it safe? There may be side effects, but they may not show as soon as possible. There are theories of side effects being visible in the later generations, from an article published by NIH, the National Human Genome Research Institute. They worry about the consent of the descendants who would be affected by this gene editing.
With the new technology, researchers are worried that this technology would only be available to the rich and wealthy.
They worry that people would be defined by their engineered genome, like in Gattaca.
Another ethical problem is the moral and religious dilemma. NIH doesn't fund any use of gene editing in human embryos. People think that it wouldn't be natural when genetic editing is done and that this does not let nature "take its course."
But the fact is that over our species, we have learned something called evolution, and in evolution, there is something called "selective breeding," and in this situation, an animal has a choice to select the animal they breed with because they may have a more advantageous phenotype.
This phenotype could be beneficial for the offspring in adapting to the environment, and there could be more genetic variation in the gene pool of the animal.
CRISPR may not faithfully insert new DNA nucleotides and may not work on non-Mendelian disorders such as Down Syndrome, where the problem is an entire chromosome, known as Trisomy 21 and with Huntington's Disease where single genes mutated by trinucleotides repeat.
Genetics may not actually be the key to everything. This is what genetic determinism is about. It holds that DNA sequence is the prime cause in human traits and normal and abnormal diseases.
Environmental factors play a huge part in diseases, such as exposure to radiation, pathogens, and toxins.
Rosalind Franklin contributed to the discovery of the DNA molecule and was the first to take a picture of the molecule. With her role, she was exposed to radiation and this may have caused her diagnosis, even though her other family members died of the same cause.
I personally support the use of CRISPR and think further trials on human embryo should be held in the future.
We need to abolish these unnecessary moral and religious limitations. They don't even impose a good argument. These are the same people who would abandon a newborn child with a facial deformity caused by genetics but think this technology isn't natural enough when it could solve this problem.
This wouldn't even be the first time when a discovery went against the basic foundation of religion. When Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution, Catholics were infuriated as this went against humans being God's perfect creation, but it was soon that the Catholic Church adopted and accepted the theory.
But CRISPR isn't just about evolution, it is about making choices about our evolution.
We have the chance to change our genetic makeup with this technology and with doing this, we may lose our ancestry. It could be wiped off the faces of our DNA.
The cost is predictable: expensive. It should only be available to those that can afford it. This is a business we are talking about; you can't expect it to be cheap and be available to the majority of the people. Better is to offer this to a selection of the people. If the majority can get their hands on this technology, it would be catastrophic.
So is society going to accept CRISPR? The answer is "They should."