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Gene editing will challenge ethics at Biological Weapons Convention

| | August 24, 2016
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Image via Synthetic Biology Center at MIT.
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[T]he signatory nations of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) will meet [on December 2016]…to discuss the state of bioweapons globally…[T]he world has radically changed since they last met…in 2011. The discovery of several novel gene-editing techniques…has unleashed a torrent of studies that aim to cure everything from cancer to world hunger.

[However, t]he discovery…that scientists in China have begun using gene-editing techniques on human embryos…has ignited a vigorous global debate about the limits we ought to have when manipulating biology.

The advent of CRISPR has corresponded with a widespread democratization of biology. Gene-editing kits are cheap, legal, and relatively easy to use. DIY biohacking spaces have proliferated throughout the world…

The potential for gene-editing techniques to engineer biological weapons of unprecedented power…will pose a significant challenge to the values and ethics captured in the BWC treaty. There was a reason we, as a global community, decided to close the book on biowarfare: You can’t un-invent a lethal weapon. But is it…possible to be exclusively defensive when confronting death by biology?

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Accessible Synthetic Biology Raises New Concerns for DIY Biological Warfare

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