The debate that followed initial experiments using the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing tool show that old stereotypes about Asia still resonate in the West.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene editing tool that was first demonstrated US and Swedish labs in 2012. Basically, it uses segments of bacterial DNA that can make targeted cuts in a genome when paired with a specific guide protein (in this case, Cas9).
The technique is relatively uncomplicated compared with previous genome editing tools, which have been studied by scientists for more than 50 years. If applied to the genome of human germline cells, which pass on genetic material to produce human embryos, CRISPR-Cas9 has – at least in theory – the capability to alter humanity as we understand it.
Once certain genes are introduced or removed in germline cells (also known as gametes), the changes are passed onto the next generation. Given its potential to be misapplied towards eugenic ends and related ethical concerns, scientists generally agree that genetic modification of human gametes and embryos should not be done for reproductive purposes.
But it was less clear...