Will CRISPR gene editing disrupt or perpetuate global health and medical social inequalities?


On [June 3 and 4], hundreds of scientists, industry folk, and public health officials from all over the world filled the amphitheater at the Boston World Trade Center to reckon with the power of biology’s favorite new DNA-tinkering tool: Crispr.

“In a time like this with ethnic nationalism sweeping Europe and Trump nationalism sweeping the US, not democratizing these kinds of technologies is a genuine threat to those of us who are minorities with less powerful in this society,” [said urban farmer Antonio Cosme].

Like any technology, the applications of gene editing tech will be shaped by the values of the societies that wield it. Which is why a conversation about equitable access to Crispr quickly becomes a conversation about redistributing some of the wealth and education that has been increasingly concentrated in smaller and smaller swaths of the population over the past three decades.

Related article:  Like them or not, 'China needs GMOs'

The fear is that Crispr won’t disrupt current inequalities, it’ll just perpetuate them.

“How do I talk about Crispr when people won’t have access to it, even when there are treatments available?” [Florcy Romero] asked the crowd. Crispr-based therapeutics are just beginning clinical trials in the US, but pricing a genetic cure is already challenging the pharma and insurance industries. The first gene therapies, which were approved last year, today cost upwards of $500,000.

Read full, original post: CRISPR fans fight for egalitarian access to gene editing

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