Technology is changing the world in new and amazing ways every day. The one in particular I’d like to introduce you to today is called CRISPR. The shortest explanation is that it allows genetic manipulation quickly, economically and more effectively than all previous technologies. The idea might seem unnatural or scary to some people, but the potential associated with CRISPR is undeniable. Applied to humans, if could mean that genetic diseases become a thing of the past. Animals that are going extinct could be saved and animals that are spreading disease or overrunning environments could be curtailed without hunting and toxins. There are plenty of invasive species that were accidentally introduced to different ecosystems and are causing terrible damage. CRISPR offers the hope that they could be brought under control and balance to the original ecosystem could be restored.
One of the ideas being tossed around among scientists is altering the genes of mosquitoes that carry malaria so they are no longer proper hosts for the disease, thereby reducing the spread over generations of mosquito. This would save millions of lives in a matter of years. Conceivably this could also mean we could make the mosquitoes unable to carry other diseases, such as dengue, west nile, zika, etc. and protect the world from the rampant spread of these illnesses.
The development of this technology, beyond the medical capacity, could apply to appearance as well. You could naturally change your hair, skin or eye color if you wanted. I have to say that the concept of never having to dye my hair again is pretty appealing. You could also select preferred genes to be expressed over others. It’s hard to say how this would go and whether or not this would turn into designer babies. This is why it’s important to begin the discussion before the technology gets to that point. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but when, and we should be aware of it. Educate yourself on the opportunities this technology will provide so when it becomes available you can have an informed opinion about the research and use of it.
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