Some people call me a biohacker. My colleagues like the term because it sounds cool, and journalists like it because it gets clicks. I prefer being called a community biologist, do-it-yourself biologist, or even a citizen scientist, terms that are all interchangeable with biohacker.
The New York Times recently published a story warning the public about biohackers who are using CRISPR, a bioengineering tool that lets researchers make tiny and specific edits to DNA. The article assembled a number of news items — which included a biotech executive pricking himself with a homemade herpes treatment, scientists at University of Alberta in Edmonton synthesizing cowpox, and work at my community lab in Brooklyn — to paint a picture of biohackers working underground to create the next global apocalypse.
Yet the truth is that community labs like ours have more to do with science outreach and education than the scary-sounding research mentioned in the article. These labs, also known as biohacker spaces, are community hubs where people from diverse backgrounds and a range of ages meet to learn about biotechnology, work on projects, and share know-how.
Despite all the positives the biohacking community provides, should we ignore their benefits because someone shouts bioterrorism? No. Rather than portraying community biology as a threat, it’s time for the media — and the public — to see it as a public resource.
Read full, original post: Biohackers are about open-access to science, not DIY pandemics. Stop misrepresenting us