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Every week, I get unsolicited email ads from airlines, Nigerian widows – and now biotech companies selling gene editing services. I usually just reflexively delete the biotech emails along with most of the others, giving them little thought. That was until British researchers made a momentous announcement: A British regulatory agency has given them permission to begin altering genes in human embryos.
So-called gene editing involves the use of technology, known as CRISPR-Cas 9, to alter the genes, or DNA, in our cells. One of the greatest technological discoveries in the past 50 years, if not longer, this powerful tool holds the promise of revolutionizing our lives and those of our descendants.
Tampering with nature undoubtedly has perils, but having been very public about what they are planning, the UK researchers will be closely watched. It is therefore not so much what these researchers do, but what might happen in the future that we need to keep a close eye on. The reality is that all technologies are tools that people can use for good or bad. Nuclear research, for example, has given us relatively inexpensive electricity but also atomic bombs.
Similarly with CRISPR, careful oversight and transparency are crucial because “garage science” flourishes in many fields, as do researchers in countries with little oversight. If I am receiving emails selling these technological services, so too are countless others.
Read full, original post: Should we be worried about gene editing?