Gene editing technologies like CRISPR promise not only to eradicate disease and disability, but also to provide human enhancement and designer babies. But this powerful technology comes with a host of major ethical issues that need to be carefully considered and addressed.
More and more, we’re hearing about the promises of gene editing. It’s a scientific technology that literally allows us to rewrite our DNA. Still in the experimental stage, with technologies like CRISPR, we’ve seen how the technology can be used wrongly. It can put humanity at risk. Many Christians are not aware of the biological challenges until it’s too late.
In this week’s What Would You Say? video, my colleague Brooke McIntire walked us through ways Christians can think about gene editing, and here’s what she had to say:
In recent years, talk of gene editing has become extremely popular. Gene editing technologies like CRISPR promise not only to eradicate disease and disability, but also to provide human enhancement and designer babies. But this powerful technology comes with a host of major ethical issues that need to be carefully considered and addressed.
You may wonder what ethics has to do with gene editing – after all, doesn’t eradicating disease and disability sound like a no brainer? It’s true that we can and have used technology to alleviate suffering in the world, and that is a good thing. But sometimes our well-intentioned actions can have devastating unforeseen consequences. The next time someone says, “gene editing can help us wipe out disease and will improve life for everyone,” here are 3 things to remember:
First, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.
When we hear about the exciting advances in technology and genetics, it’s easy to believe the promise that it will make our lives better or healthier. But, as countless stories in science fiction have taught us, simply pursuing innovation for innovation’s sake can have dangerous consequences. That’s why it’s important to ask not only “can we” do something, but “should we” do something. As technology continues to advance, the question of “should we” will get more and more weighty.
For example, a group of researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London used CRISPR technology to edit 18 human embryos. But when they finished, they found that around half the embryos ended up with what they called “major unintended edits.” These “major unintended edits” are more harmful than they sound. They can actually lead to birth defects or life-threatening medical problems like cancer. And, those issues could permanently enter the gene pool and affect future generations.