Blocking science from “meddling” in human genome allows harmful genes to damage children

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CRISPR-Cas9 will make it be possible for parents to ensure that mutations such as Huntington’s disease…are eliminated from their children’s DNA. By the same token,…[i]t will allow the privileged the power to create “designer babies” and inevitably perpetuate the divide between the haves…and have-nots.

In the hands of a biohacker, CRISPR-Cas9 could transform even the most benign infections into deadly epidemics and engineer them to replicate rapidly….

It is primarily for this reason that the genetic community has called for a complete moratorium on germ-line genetic manipulation to ensure that any edits to the genetic code do not pass into the hereditary pool….

[But] the goal of medicine has always been to create improved humans and CRISPR-Cas9 is just the latest tool that will help us along in that direction. Any ban on germ-line research will prevent us from reaping the therapeutic benefits of this technology.

Even if we can agree that there are risks inherent in meddling with the gene pool, we have to recognize that certain genes are bad in every conceivable context…There is no conceivable benefit in allowing a gene that causes [a disease like Tay-Sachs] to survive in the gene pool.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original postCutting the code with CRISPR

  • David Ashton

    Before we hear of slippery slopes and Godwin’s Law, what would be WRONG with blue eyes & fair hair, a high IQ and an athletic physique?

    • fuariz

      What is wrong with the extinction of human phenotype diversity?

      I want you to think hard about this before you answer. Do you not see any problems whatsoever with substituting the wide range of human diversity with a much smaller range?

      • David Ashton

        I have been thinking hard and reading widely about this for years.

        I see problems in deliberately obliterating specific group phenotype adaptations to environments, or in forcing a cross between biologically very different organisms.

        I chose the “blue and blond” example because it often arises as a knee-jerk Godwin’s Law cliche when eugenics or racism is discussed.

        Problem-solvers are generally more beneficial than problem-people.

        I see that people are concerned about rare cat species crossing with ferals. I think the fortunately impracticable idea of mixing all the human races in one giant mess even more repulsive.

        • fuariz

          Ok…so you find mixed race people repulsive? I really do not know your point is here. Eugenics is considered bad because it takes away fundamental freedoms from people, creates a lack of genetic diversity, creates resentment and mistrust, and is based on pseudoscience.

          • David Ashton

            You are jumping to conclusions.
            Unlike Darwin, I do not “find mixed race people repulsive” as individuals. Some of them, including my own acquaintances, can be very attractive (to my aesthetic standards). I do think the notion of amalgamating all the different ethnic groups into one permanent vast global hodge-podge undesirable for several reasons.

            Eugenics is currently practised in Israel to reduce the prevalence of Tay Sachs – there is nothing pseudo-scientific or evil about it.

            Encouraging creative people to have more rather than fewer children creates resentment only from those who suffer from misguided envy and do not realize that everyone benefits more from the gifted minority than from its morons and imbeciles.

            I am hopeless at advanced maths and am not musical enough to play the piano as brilliantly as my wife and grandchildren. I am however grateful that gifted mathematicians and musical composers exist in the world, along with scientists and surgeons. We married assortatively – because we both have high IQs and similar cultural values, and I am lucky that the genes passed on my father’s and my mother-in-law’s musical gifts,

            But enough of me: for another view, see e.g.:
            http://www.eugenics.net

          • fuariz

            A. The amagulation thing would never happen. Populations don’t work that way.

            B. Eugenics is government action. What happens in Israel is voluntary. Additionally it’s not stopping people from reproducing only not reproducing with other carriers. Once again not eugenics. Additionally Tay Sachs is controlled by one gene while intelligence is controlled by thousands.

            C. I have no idea what “encouraged” means. Tell me would you trust a doctor that wanted to sterilize you?

            Eugenics is just genocide with more steps.

          • David Ashton

            I would not propose going much further than the Israeli practice with several diseases. You may be interested on the writings of the Jewish eugenicist John Glad, partly online (or maybe not).

            I am against the killing of viable and sentient unborn babies on “eugenic” grounds.

            Nor am I proposing compulsory sterilization as a general eugenic measure.

            You are quite correct about the unlikelihood of global panmixia, although some people have envisioned it as a desirable objective from Beijing to Brazzaville.

            The example of Brazil is enough to warrant caution against irretrievable crossing on any relatively large scale.

            You could call the disappearance of specific ethnic groups by crossing “genocide”.

  • fuariz

    No one is arguing about Tay sachs. That is a strawman argument. What people are upset about is what this will almost certainly lead too. Which is why we can not argue miles and inches about this. A 100% ban is required. Failure to do so will create eugenics and a backalley market.