CRISPRcon talks designer babies and scientific colonialism

| | June 11, 2018
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

While lacking the costuming of Comic-Con or revelry of SantaCon, [CRISPRCon’s] second annual geek-out dealt with a concept weightier than superheroes or public drunkenness: How should society deal with a technology that can literally reshape the world?

If you get a bunch of people in a room to talk about gene editing, there’s one topic guaranteed to come up: designer babies.

“That’s something we’re far away from,” said Feng Zhang, a scientist at the Broad Institute and a CRISPR pioneer. “Decades. Maybe longer.”

“People say it’s wrong to modify the genome of a baby because they can’t consent to it,” said Anna Everette of the New York Academy of Sciences. “But the counterpoint is that they didn’t consent to being conceived.”

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Among CRISPR’s many dazzling applications is the promise of rewiring animals to eradicate infectious disease or save an endangered species. It sounds great on paper — edit a mouse, tinker with a tree, save a community — but the realities of culture make it infinitely more complicated.

To [Antonio Cosme] following through on [the promise to give control to communities] would require the powers that be in academia to step down from their ivory towers, accept some humility, and relinquish control to people without terminal degrees — something scientists have been loath to do in the past.

Read full, original post: What we heard at CRISPRCon: talk of designer babies, IP battles, and scientific colonialism

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