Gene Editing: Is It Ethical?


DNA strand

Lizzie Cheetham, Staff Writer

If you could change your child’s genes, would you? This seems like an outlandish question as the process of gene inheritance is not something that parents can typically control and yet I pose the question still. The technology known as CRISPR, which is used in the process of gene editing, was discovered decades ago but it’s still a relatively new concept. Through the use of CRISPR, scientists could edit genes that are mutated which could prevent diseases but they could also use it to change the genes that determine the appearance or even the intelligence of the future child. Not to mention by targeting genes that cause things like Down Syndrome, it could eliminate large groups of people from the gene pool. This brings us to the ultimate question: Is gene editing ethical?

Gene editing is an incredible step in science but it’s possible that it could do more harm than good. If CRISPR is used and it targets the wrong gene it could cause problems that weren’t there before. There is also a concern with the fact that people could edit their children’s traits. Technology like CRISPR could lead us down a dangerous path with no end in sight. Interfering with the natural process of life is a definite cause for concern. CRISPR is also a highly expensive process that would make it hard for the average person to afford.

Despite the negative aspects of gene editing there are some good intentions. By using CRISPR to target mutated genes it could greatly impact people’s quality of life. Threatening diseases could be stopped before a child is even born. Having the opportunity to change people’s lives so drastically is unbelievable.

Ultimately, I feel like the people behind gene editing and CRISPR have good intentions but that is not always what matters. Technology will continue advancing and we have to think about how we will regulate it in order to reap the most benefits. In some instances gene editing could be a beneficial and life changing thing but in others it could be the beginning of a Twilight Zone episode.