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Discussions on human genome modifications to eliminate disease genes and/or for human enhancement are not new and have been common place since the first discussions on sequencing the human genome occurred in the mid 1980’s. Many a bioethicist has made their careers from such discussions, and currently on Amazon there are dozens of books on a wide range of human enhancement topics including those that predict that editing our genes will lead to the end of humanity. There are also thousands of news stories on the new DNA editing tools called CRISPR.
So why is genome editing so different? If we can use CRISPR techniques to change the letters of the genetic code known to be associated with rare genetic disorders such as Tay-Sachs disease, Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, cycle cell anemia or ataxia telangiectasia, why wouldn’t we just do so and eliminate the diseases from human existence? The answer is both simple and complex at the same time: just because the techniques have become easier to perform, the ethical issues are not easier. In fact, the reality of the technical ease of CRISPR-based genome editing has changed hypothetical, esoteric arguments limited largely to “bioethicists” to here and now discussions and decisions for all of us.
Read full, original post: Craig Venter: We Are Not Ready to Edit Human Embryos Yet