CRISPR: Eugenics 2.0?

CRISPR technology is a form of gene-editing tech that can potentially change or even remove parts of an organism’s DNA. This new technology can be exhilarating for some because it can redesign an organism’s genetic make-up to benefit themselves and others as a whole. For instance, scientists in the fields are looking at changing the DNA of mosquitos that are capable of carrying bloodborne illnesses such as Zika or dengue fever to no longer having that trait, which can save millions of lives from dying from these diseases (Specter article). This technology could also be used to edit genomes of animal organs (specifically pig organs) to not carry certain viruses when given to a human who needs a new organ (Specter). CRISPR can also be terrifying because the technology could be used for biological warfare according to some (Specter article) or it could be used to create a new method of discrimination, which would be against those with no gene modification (Harris and Darnovsky article).

Although I think CRISPR can be used to benefit humanity and the world as a whole, I do believe it can hold the potential for a new line of eugenics. Some argue that modifying genes in humans can lead to discrimination based off of whether or not someone’s genes have been manipulated for the better. With eugenics in the past, it was believed that those with undesirable traits should not be allowed to reproduce, but with the advent of using CRISPR, people believe taking away undesirable traits from a fetus’ DNA would lead to yet another instance of a genetic purity mindset much like how it was in the 30’s and 40’s. However, I don’t believe we are at the point of modifying human DNA to that extent, so we can have plenty of time to debate about the ethics of CRISPR.

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