U.S. Science Leaders to Tackle Ethics of Gene-Editing Technology

Sharon Begley, Yahoo! News, May 18, 2015

The leading U.S. scientific organization, responding to concerns expressed by scientists and ethicists, has launched an ambitious initiative to recommend guidelines for new genetic technology that has the potential to create “designer babies.”

The technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, allows scientists to edit virtually any gene they target. The technique is akin to a biological word-processing program that finds and replaces genetic defects.

The technique has taken biology by storm, igniting fierce patent battles between start-up companies and universities that say it could prove as profitable and revolutionary as recombinant DNA technology, which was developed in the 1970s and 1980s and launched the biotechnology industry.

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Last month, scientists in China reported carrying out the first experiment using CRISPR gene-editing to alter the DNA of human embryos. Although the embryos were not viable and could not have developed into babies, the announcement ignited an outcry from scientists warning that such a step, which could alter human genomes for generations, was just a matter of time.

In response, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and its Institute of Medicine will convene an international summit this fall where researchers and other experts will “explore the scientific, ethical, and policy issues associated with human gene-editing research,” the academies said in a statement.

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“We provided leadership in the past on emerging, controversial new areas of genetic research, such as human embryonic stem cell research (and) human cloning,” NAS President Ralph Cicerone and IOM President Victor Dzau said in a joint statement. “We are prepared to work with the scientific and medical communities to achieve a comprehensive understanding of human gene editing and its implications.”

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  • MrBiIIGoode .

    Make them all white so everyone can enjoy ‘white privilege.’

    • LHathaway

      lol, too funny. Good one.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    This will probably be done in China or Korea first, where they don’t share our compunctions about tampering with the human species.

    • Deacon Blue

      Korea has already cloned and commercialized the cloning of pets (dogs and cats).
      For $50K you can get your pet cloned legally in South Korea. In fact, you will
      likely end up with 4-10 frozen, viable, genetically identical embryos from the stem
      cells of the donor canine or feline. Do not ask me how I know this. Thanks! 🙂

      Having a spouse who is from South Korea and spending considerable time
      there for both business and pleasure I can tell you that I have zero doubts
      that the Koreans will be the the first – if they have not done so already – to
      create human chimerics by inserting selected genes from a variety of animals.

      Custom, designer babies with supraphysiological sight, hearing, endurance,
      speed, strength, etc., will come from Korea first.

      If I could hit the “reset” button I would have gone to medical school, studied
      plastic and microvascular surgery and opened a clinic in South Korea.

      The amount of obvious, anime-like plastic surgery performed in South Korea
      over period time X is staggering. Women with giant moon sized eyes,
      tiny dimpled chins, enhanced cheek bones and pouty lips abound all
      over Korea. If there is technology that will allow prospective parents to
      genetically alter their progeny for these traits (or even other non-human
      traits) for sure it will flourish in South Korea…

      • IstvanIN

        Non-human traits is a scary thought.

      • Diana Moon Glampers

        Creepy and fascinating.

    • Realist

      Yeah, there is no room for improvement.

  • David Ashton

    Eliminate hereditary disease, stupidity and criminality from the human species? What would happen to the egalitarian left when it loses its clientele? What will Adolf think of next?

  • journey

    The next evolutionary step in gene manipulation is to delete the ability to breed in blacks and Hispanics. That will create quite a “storm”.

    • Jason Lewis

      A race targeted virus that renders people sterile would work faster.

      • journey

        Viruses tend to mutate too easily = too much uncertainty. Have to be careful about unintended consequences.

    • Light from the East

      I would like to put those manipulating factors, which can be activated by some certain genes, in some genetic-modified food. Since we know the 3rd world cannot feed themselves so they need more crops. They can happily enjoy their lives free from hungry and we make money and achieve our goal to reduce them. When both sides accept it, it is more effective than just using brute force with side effect of guilt.

  • how about this

    Maybe we can edit out the gene for pathological altruism.

    • ZenSouth

      One can only hope that this will be done for the sake of our future as a people.

  • dd121

    The politics of this and the GMO scare are the same. The left doesn’t like it and the religious right doesn’t like it. That’s a lot of opposition to two things that potentially could do the human race a lot of good. .

  • WR_the_realist

    The first “designer babies” likely to be produced by CRISPR-Cas9 will simply have some deleterious allele that causes an incurable disease replaced by the good version of the gene. Professional “ethicists” are apalled by this, of course. The ethical thing to do is to have children born with horrible, devastating diseases.

    Later there might be designer babies with trivial modifications like blue eyes instead of brown. By then there will be so few white people left that if you want blue eyed children this will be the only way to do it. Ethicists will be even more horrified by this use of gene editing — no child should have to suffer with blue eyes!

    Finally people will figure out which genes will make you smarter without causing serious psychological problems, and there will be a desire to make designer babies with those smart genes. Ethicists will be frothing at the mouth over this, because it is wrong, just wrong, utterly, horribly wrong, for parents to want intelligent children.

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      I agree. I am looking forward to the arrival of the genetic engineering age. Imagine how much suffering could be prevented if we could just prevent babies from being born with genetic disorders, low IQs, and criminal inclinations. This could lead to a revolutionary increase in global average living standards.

      Being able to give your child blue eyes or blonde hair no matter what your own hair and eye colors are is just icing on the cake.

      • LHathaway

        It would be interesting to see if the offspring of Blacks and Whites could be engineered to have blue eyes. It’s pretty rare in nature. Almost unheard of. In fact it’s rare for them to ever have green eyes, although seemingly on very rare occasions, perhaps when a mixed adult mates with a white, the male offspring will be born with green eyes.

        • GeneticsareDestiny

          I imagine it would be possible to create such a child via genetic engineering. Though it is almost unheard of for a half-black child to have blue eyes when he is conceived normally, genetic engineering will open up many possibilities that would not typically be available to parents. If a black and white couple wanted their offspring to have blue eyes, it will surely be possible to arrange eventually.

      • Spikeygrrl

        Red/green is gorgeous, and just as White.

        • GeneticsareDestiny

          I agree, red hair and green eyes are both very nice colors. I’d be happy to have a child with them.

  • evilsandmich

    Kind of off topic,but I wonder if it will be possible to have genically engineered gold teef and multiple livers, with the extras preferably stored in the posterior…

    • jambi19

      Come on now. What these “ethicists” are worried about is the extinction of afro haircuts and sickle cell anemia. Anyone with minimal exposure to academia is familiar with these “ethicists”. Lacking vibrant diversity would be a travesty for all.

  • Exuberant Auditor

    I would like to hear Jared Taylor’s view on these recent advances in genetics and biology.

    A video or an opinion article would be very welcome.

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      Agreed. In his “America in 2034” Essay, Jared Taylor failed to address emerging technologies like this, which I believe have the potential to change everything about the way we see racial differences in the not too distant future.

  • ZenSouth

    Genetic engineering along with the technological augmentation could one day rid humanity of any and all diseases and possibly even death. But religion will have to change it’s ways or fade away for this to become a reality.

    • Realist

      “But religion will have to change it’s ways or fade away for this to become a reality.”
      Preferably the latter.

  • carriewhite64

    Requests for black-skinned babies will be as rare as black Barbies in Walmart.

    • ZenSouth

      lol

  • jpstraley

    Parents will always choose what’s best for their children, if possible. Would you choose to confer ptimal fitness & health, plus a bit of IQ boost on your kid? Who wouldn’t?

    And when Johnny’s parents (who did not help him when they could) has to compete with optimized people, John will make sure his own are CRISPR critters.

    Besides, this technology is portable, and no one with enough money to take a five-day cruise will have to concern themselves with Big Brother denying these benefits.

  • Hilis Hatki

    Sounds GREAT!!! What could possibly go wrong!

    • Realist

      “What could possibly go wrong!”
      Idiots will be against it.

      • Hilis Hatki

        self righteous snobbish morons will be totally for it.

        • Realist

          Ooooh, good one!

  • Earl P. Holt III

    With America’s average I.Q. down to around 93 — thanks to nigro fertility and Third World immigration — “designer” babies may not be such a bad idea.

    I predict a higher average I.Q. in the U.S. will precipitate the end of the “Democrat” Party, (some prefer “communist” party,) because the “Democrats” will eventually run out of idiots and parasites…