An article from WIRED on the gene editing tool CRISPR popped up on my feed today and made me think - what is the Christian response to a gene editing tool like CRISPR? What are the boundaries on how we make use of this type of technology? I’ve included a thread where @Anjeanette_AJ_Robert explains more about the technology and provides some additional resources.
My initial thought on this type of technology is:
- sure, use it to make plants and animals more conducive to human flourishing - like disease resistant livestock or plants that grow in areas where there is hunger / it is hard to grow food, but first make sure you are not going to ruin the ecosystem when you introduce a new variety of plant / animal - sometimes we do not foresee the consequences of introducing new species
But what about diseases in people? Better not to touch it at all and leave it be? What are your thoughts???
Two summers ago, for instance, ExxonMobil announced that it had used Crispr to double the amount of biofuel generated by the marine algae Nannochloropsis gaditana . German researchers recently found a way to create Crispr’d pigs that are resistant to African swine fever, a disease that’s been ruinous for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
But other uses of the technology have been more disturbing. Last November, a Chinese researcher named He Jiankui announced the birth of humanity’s first gene-edited babies, twin girls with a Crispr’d version of the CCR5 gene, which he claimed gave them immunity to certain strains of HIV. (The fact that he made his change at the embryo stage means the girls will pass on their edited DNA.) The experiment was widely condemned as unethical, unnecessary, and potentially dangerous; Chinese authorities called it “abominable.” But it also augured the next phase of Crispr’s development—from a universally embraced lab tool to one with the potential to permanently alter species, ecosystems, and people.