We’re Living in a George Orwell Novel

CRISPR technology is a gene editing technology that has taken the world by storm. Specifically, CRISPR is a natural process that cells use to alter their DNA in order to combat illnesses. A section of the DNA is replaced and the cell starts replicating that gene; naturally, the cell would create antibodies, but scientists are using this process for different gains. Scientists have found that CRISPR can be used for numerous purposes. One of the most highly touted purposes is the eradication of genetic diseases. Genetic diseases like Huntington’s or cystic fibrosis could be eradicated entirely, by just editing anyone with that disease. There are many more medical implications of CRISPR. One of the ones that I’m most excited about is the prospect of using pig organs in humans. There are many people on the organ donor list that will never receive a life saving organ, and they will sadly die. Swine organs are very similar to human organs (size and shape), but there are genes in pigs that will target human cells. CRISPR would allow swine cells to be edited so that they will no longer target human cells, which would save many lives. CRISPR has many applications; the prospect of this can be exhilarating and exciting, but there are some reasons we should be terrified. As with other techno-fixes, we cannot predict some of the effects of CRISPR. 

Imagine a future where there are genetically modified humans. Is that exciting? I’m excited about it, but there are some ethical questions that come to mind. Who will have access to gene-editing? Sadly, I think it will only be rich people. Answering the prompt, CRISPR has the massive potential to bring about a market-based eugenics movement. I shudder thinking about the widened gap between the rich and the poor, when the rich are genetically modified to be superior. Are we moving into a dystopian future?

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