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By 2018, it was clear that CRISPR had spun out of control. In the United States, one biotech company managed to bypass the Food and Drug Administration to get CRISPR-modified food onto people’s dinner plates. Not long after, a world-shaking report revealed that CRISPR had also been used without formal approval in China to edit the DNA of two baby girls, Lulu and Nana. As scientists and governments methodically deliberate on the best way to regulate CRISPR’s use in society, those seeking fame and fortune plow ahead heedless of the consequences. CRISPR, now a Nobel Prize-winning technology, is a permanent fixture in biological research and clinical medicine. We must take its dire ethical implications, from changing the food we eat to altering human evolution, more seriously.

Genetic Reductionism and CRISPR: Dire Bedfellows

When Drs. Jennifer Doudna and Emanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on CRISPR, the Nobel committee framed their discovery as a tool for rewriting the “code of life” DNA.1 Describing DNA as the “code of life” is a common trope, and... see more