Gene editing has long been a subject in science that I find myself conflicted over. Though I wholeheartedly support the use of science to better the human species, I do believe that there are some lines that should definitely not be crossed. CRISPR technology finds itself at the crossroads between the two previous ideas: bettering humanity, and crossing more than a few ethical guidelines in theoretical practices.
The National Geographic article brought forth the idea of using CRISPR gene editing to help counter the spread of infectious diseases; an idea that really does not seem too far fetched to me. As we know, infectious diseases carried by mosquitoes, such as malaria and dengue fever, kill millions of people every year. The idea that scientists could breed species of mosquito that would, over time, eliminate mosquito-borne infectious disease from certain regions of the world is absolutely astounding, and seems to be a viable option for the betterment of humanity. However, there are environmental and theoretical consequences to developing a gene for sterility. As the offspring of the carriers of the sterility gene will be unable to produce, species of birds, bats, and amphibians will lose a food source, potentially disrupting the ecosystems where the species reproduces. In addition, the theoretical implications of creating a sterility gene in another species could potentially give rise to a neo-eugenics movement, wherein the idea of forcing sterilization even before one’s birth could potentially give rise to eliminating other traits using CRISPR, such as genetic disorders. Now it may be tempting to say that eliminating genetic diseases and disorders will ultimately benefit humanity, but this completely discredits an entire portion of the world population, who persist and succeed despite genetic disability. Eliminating these individuals from society over generations is absolutely unethical, and should not even be considered as a possibility for further genetic research.