Streaming Media

Infographic

Description

The advent of recombinant DNA technology offers many potential benefits in terms of global food security, animal welfare, and disease treatments—but it has also generated great controversy and concern. Like the development of nuclear technology in the 1940s, new gene editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 present humankind with the opportunity to use them for both good and evil. CRISPR-Cas9 could be used to cure or prevent cancer, increase food production to feed an ever expanding human race, alleviate the pain and suffering of livestock and poultry, and prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika or malaria.

But CRISPR also raises many ethical issues. Should we use it to create designer human babies, for example? Couldn't CRISPR be used to wipe out nearly any species, and in the wrong hands, generate invisible weapons for bioterrorism or genocide? Much of this might seem like science fiction, but is close to or is a scientific reality already. Prominent scientists in the journal Science have noted regulatory gaps in governing the use of CRISPR and have expressed grave concerns about its potential to be misused.

Unlike nuclear technology - which requires great expertise, equipment, and time to develop - gene-editing technology can easily be done using premade constructs from mail-order companies. Pandora's box has already been opened. The question now is how we will regulate and control the power CRISPR offers.

Location

STEW 206

Start Date

10-4-2016 2:15 PM

Share

COinS
 
Oct 4th, 2:15 PM

The Science and Science Fiction of GMOs: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

STEW 206

The advent of recombinant DNA technology offers many potential benefits in terms of global food security, animal welfare, and disease treatments—but it has also generated great controversy and concern. Like the development of nuclear technology in the 1940s, new gene editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 present humankind with the opportunity to use them for both good and evil. CRISPR-Cas9 could be used to cure or prevent cancer, increase food production to feed an ever expanding human race, alleviate the pain and suffering of livestock and poultry, and prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika or malaria.

But CRISPR also raises many ethical issues. Should we use it to create designer human babies, for example? Couldn't CRISPR be used to wipe out nearly any species, and in the wrong hands, generate invisible weapons for bioterrorism or genocide? Much of this might seem like science fiction, but is close to or is a scientific reality already. Prominent scientists in the journal Science have noted regulatory gaps in governing the use of CRISPR and have expressed grave concerns about its potential to be misused.

Unlike nuclear technology - which requires great expertise, equipment, and time to develop - gene-editing technology can easily be done using premade constructs from mail-order companies. Pandora's box has already been opened. The question now is how we will regulate and control the power CRISPR offers.