CRISPR technology is a gene-editing tool that can directly modify an organism’s genotype to produce different phenotypes. This can be exhilarating because several human diseases are hereditary and modifying the gene that influences the onset of said disease could eradicate that disease entirely. Living in a world without cancer, diabetes, or HIV would be insane (Specter, 40)! However, CRISPR tech is also super terrifying. Being able to modify genes means people can modify genes to remove “imperfections.” Harris and Darnovsky discuss this idea by talking about height and skin color as characteristics that impede success (Harris and Darnovsky, 4). If that’s the case, why not modify them to eliminate the possibility of inhabiting a “losing” characteristic? This is exactly why CRISPR has the potential to turn into a market-based eugenics movement. Eugenics was all about eliminating inferiority and propelling the human race to its fullest potential, and CRISPR seems like the perfect tool for those wishing to do that. If CRISPR was to be monetized for cosmetic purposes, anyone could maximize their baby’s potential to do great things, but then it bleeds into the subjectivity of height and skin color again, forcing people to decide which characteristics of each category are “superior,” sparking a critical debate that might outlaw CRISPR completely.
I think CRISPR has the potential to do wonderful things for humanity, but we’ll have to draw a line where some genes must be considered “un-editable.” Some physical characteristics are not “inferior” or “superior,” so any genes edited have to be beneficial for everyone on earth, and not just for certain populations at the detriment of others’. I’m all for the current experimentation because we haven’t yet figured out how to eradicate those diseases, but hopefully with enough time, we’ll get there.