Should we worry about DIY CRISPR?


The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Media reports about the gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9 have generated some doomsday scenarios that the technology would be used, as Wired magazine wrote, to create “designer babies, invasive mutants, species-specific bioweapons, and a dozen other apocalyptic sci-fi tropes.”

So hearing the term “do-it-yourself CRISPR” might really conjure up visions of biohackers creating new disease-causing organisms that escape into the environment and kick off pandemics.

Rest easy. The do-it-yourself community has codes of conduct in place to guide responsible use of CRISPR, and it has been more proactive about discussing this technology than the federal government, wrote Todd Kuiken, a senior program associate at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., in a commentary published in Nature.


Community norms won’t much influence rogue biohackers intent on causing harm. “But such people could just as easily be scientists working in government, university or commercial labs as DIY biologists,” Kuiken wrote.

“Indeed, the current culture of responsibility among DIY biologists, their collaborative style of working and the fact that community labs are open spaces in which everyone can see what is going on reduce, if not eliminate, doomsday scenarios of mutant organisms escaping from basements and causing harm.”

Read full, original post: Is do-it-yourself CRISPR as scary as it sounds?

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