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Gene Editing

Gene editing, an innovative method of gene modification, involves the insertion, deletion, or replacement of DNA at a specific site in the genome of an organism or cell, using engineered enzymes also known as “molecular scissors.” Several methods of gene editing have been developed thus far.

One contemporary technique, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, or CRISPR-CAS9, has stirred excitement within the medical community for being more focused, cheaper, quicker and more effective than other existing methods of gene editing.


Selected ethical issues: 
  •  Effectiveness and safety (risks)
    • Fear of “off target” DNA alterations.
    • Uncertainty regarding outcome.
  •  “Slippery slope” to using gene editing techniques for elective purposes (genetic enhancement and planning) and not exclusively for therapeutic needs. 
  • Biological safety – biological dangers (both personal and to the ecosystem) of releasing genome-edited organisms from a controlled and closed environment into ecological systems.
  • Distributive (in)justice due to (un)equal access to the technology, perpetuating social gaps.
  • Impact on future generations:
    • Using gene editing in human reproductive processes – introduction of hereditary genetic changes.
    • Fear of changes to the human genome that could cause new hereditary diseases.