Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR

“Designer babies, the end of diseases, genetically modified humans that never age. Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality. The only thing we know for sure is that things will change irreversibly.”


What you need to know about CRISPR | Ellen Jorgensen

Should we bring back the wooly mammoth? Or edit a human embryo? Or wipe out an entire species that we consider harmful? The genome-editing technology CRISPR has made extraordinary questions like these legitimate — but how does it work? Scientist and community lab advocate Ellen Jorgensen is on a mission to explain the myths and realities of CRISPR, hype-free, to the non-scientists among us.

Human Gene Editing Receives Science Panel’s Support

“In a report laden with caveats and notes of caution, the group endorsed the alteration of human eggs, sperm and embryos — but only to prevent babies from being born with genes known to cause serious diseases and disability, only when no “reasonable alternative” exists, and only when a plan is in place to track the effects of the procedure through multiple generations.

“Human genetic engineering for any reason has long been seen as an ethical minefield. Many scientists fear that the techniques used to prevent genetic diseases might also be used to enhance intelligence or create humans physically suited to particular tasks, like soldiers.”

Radiolab Podcast: Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR

“Out drinking with a few biologists, Jad finds out about something called CRISPR. No, it’s not a robot or the latest dating app, it’s a method for genetic manipulation that is rewriting the way we change DNA. Scientists say they’ll someday be able to use CRISPR to fight cancer and maybe even bring animals back from the dead. Or, pretty much do whatever you want. Jad and Robert delve into how CRISPR does what it does, and consider whether we should be worried about a future full of flying pigs, or the simple fact that scientists have now used CRISPR to tweak the genes of human embryos.”

Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe

“Intuition can encourage opinions that are contrary to the facts.”

“By tapping into intuitions and emotions that mostly work under the radar of conscious awareness, but are constituent of any normally functioning human mind, such representations become easy to think. They capture our attention, they are easily processed and remembered and thus stand a greater chance of being transmitted and becoming popular, even if they are untrue. Thus, many people oppose GMOs, in part, because it just makes sense that they would pose a threat.”

How social media can distort and misinform when communicating science

Interesting article about how we acquire and spread information. How we close ourselves off to voices we disagree with and how the frequency with which information is shared is not necessarily validation of its truthfulness.

“The problem is that social media is also a great way to spread misinformation, too. Millions of Americans shape their ideas on complex and controversial scientific questions – things like personal genetic testing, genetically modified foods and their use of antibiotics – based on what they see on social media. Even many traditional news organizations and media outlets report incomplete aspects of scientific studies, or misinterpret the findings and highlight unusual claims. Once these items enter into the social media echo chamber, they’re amplified. The facts become lost in the shuffle of competing information, limited attention or both.”

Building a Better Human With Science? The Public Says, No Thanks

We will increasingly have to deal with questions and issues raised by our increasingly sophisticated abilities to alter genes and enhance humans through the use of biotechnologies. As our scientific abilities increase so too do the questions around the ethical use of such technologies. This article discusses public opinions around the abstract uses of these technologies.

What should the limits of the uses of these technologies be? What criteria should we use to determine these limits?

“Americans aren’t very enthusiastic about using science to enhance the human species. Instead, many find it rather creepy.

“A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows a profound distrust of scientists, a suspicion about claims of progress and a real discomfort with the idea of meddling with human abilities. The survey also opens a window into the public’s views on what it means to be a human being and what values are important.”

Are GMOs safe? Yes. The case against them is full of fraud, lies, and errors.

“GMO labels won’t clear this up. They won’t tell you whether there’s Bt in your food. They’ll only give you the illusion that you’ve escaped it. That’s one lesson of the Non-GMO Project, whose voluntary labels purport to give you an “informed choice” about what’s in your food.”

“That’s the fundamental flaw in the anti-GMO movement. It only pretends to inform you. When you push past its dogmas and examine the evidence, you realize that the movement’s fixation on genetic engineering has been an enormous mistake. The principles it claims to stand for—environmental protection, public health, community agriculture—are better served by considering the facts of each case than by treating GMOs, categorically, as a proxy for all that’s wrong with the world. That’s the truth, in all its messy complexity. Too bad it won’t fit on a label.”