Updated: Jan 31
Editing DNA is a technology that has been very popular over the last two years when a chinese scientist edited human DNA for the first time in history with CRISPR, a new gene editing technology. Today we will be going over the history of DNA editing, the social consequences of editing genes, and the possible unforeseen consequences of changing DNA. There are benefits and risks to gene editing, and I hope this article can help you rethink how we should approach gene editing in a way that is safe but allows the benefits.
Humans have been impacting their genes forever by way of natural selection. Simply just evolving naturally with nothing artificial at all, and we have been changing the genes of animals and plants by selective breeding. Which is choosing two of the same species with wanted traits and breeding them together. Selective breeding has given us lots of different foods like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale which came from the same plant in the mustard family, an example of this with animals is dogs. We’ve bred the fastest dog breeds until we got The Greyhound which can go at speeds of 40mph. But it wasn’t until 2018 that humans created CRISPR CAS9 which can directly edit human DNA, a scientist used CRISPR to prevent twins from getting HIV, which could cause AIDS, AIDS lowers the body's ability to fight off infections. Now the person who did it is in jail because he did it without permission from the government and without the help of other scientists. The twins are currently under close watch for any problem the edit might have caused.
There are many social consequences when DNA editing goes out to the public. Countries that do not support gene editing might start to fight countries that do. People may move to another country that does support gene editing, pushing those countries who do not support editing genes to support it. Or the exact opposite. People with edited DNA may look down upon those that do not have edited genes or be looked down upon by the people who have not been edited. Some criminals could edit their DNA to make them untraceable by rapidly changing it, or making it easier to break into banks by making them 3 times as strong or 10 times as smart! Or the military could make super soldiers which may cause a Word War 3. Like in Wrath of Khan, or Allegiant.
There are many bad things that could happen after we edit genes, like accidently causing other genetic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and maybe even undiscovered genetic diseases! Some genes even influence our personality, so how are we sure we are not changing who someone is, and what are the consequences socially when we change someone's physical appearance? Someone with this kind of technology could use it for evil purposes like making a certain species more dangerous and sending it to another continent making a very powerful invasive species. Or even creating a bioweapon! What would happen if this technology malfunctioned? Before CRISPR, editing genes was very dangerous because you could not choose what genes were going to be edited. Giving the possibility of killing someone. The possibilities are endless on what could go wrong and the consequences could easily carry on into future generations..
Gene editing will have irreversible consequences. We may not be able to go back if World War 3 happens, or if entire species go extinct. Today we talked about the history of gene editing, the social consequences, and the unforeseen consequences. I hope this article changes your views on changing DNA editing. Gene editing has many upsides but can also be dangerous so we should be careful. The consequences are endless from an accidental change in eye color to even killing someone! If we keep doing this we may even end up changing the human race as we know it. Either making the humans without edited DNA go extinct. Or even forcing us to go to another planet. We should tread carefully into these unknown waters before making an irreversible change that could become catastrophic.
Question 1: What is HIV?
Correct: It causes AIDS which lowers the body's ability to fight infections
Wrong: It's also known as diabetes
Wrong: How am I supposed to know?!?!
Wrong: HIV stands for Herobrine Infection Virus
Question 2: Why was editing genes dangerous before CRISPR
Wrong: It required radioactive explosions
Wrong: It created werewolfs
Correct: They couldn't control what gene was edited
Wrong: It self destructed the subject
Question 3: What are the dangers of gene editing
Wrong: Nothing at all!
Wrong: Why are you asking this?!?!
Wrong: Creating super strong super humans