One of the most profoundly consequential debates modern science has ever faced is unfolding at this very moment on the global stage. At its heart lies a gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9, which could one day enable scientists to create genetically modified humans.
Those who support CRISPR's use claim that it could be an invaluable tool for correcting genetic mutations that cause diseases such as HIV, cystic fibrosis, and cancer. Those who oppose it raise concerns about its application in human embryos--a process called germ-line editing--which would result in permanent, heritable modifications to the human genome.
This is one of those rare historic moments in which the present decisions will have incontrovertible effects on the future of the population.
Elliot Hosman, Senior Program Associate at the Center for Genetics and Society, joins BTR to discuss the ethical implications of this controversial new technology.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): Can you explain for our readers a little bit about what CRISPR does?
Elliot Hosman (EH): Sure, CRISPR is the cheapest, easiest, most concise gene-editing tool currently available. It relies on programmed...