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Thread: Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

  1. #1
    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

    Walter Isaacson
    July 27, 2019

    Biology is the new tech. I’m at a conference in Quebec City on CRISPR, the molecular tool designed to edit genes, and it has the same vibe as the meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club and the West Coast Computer Faire did in the 1970s, except that the hip young innovators are programming with genetic code rather than computer code. Now that schools are finally realizing that every kid should learn how to code, they are going to have to switch from teaching 0101 to A.G.C.T., the four bases of our DNA.
    Many of the star pioneers are here, including Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna, who in 2012 co-discovered how to combine two snippets of RNA with an enzyme to make a programmable scissors that could cut DNA at a precise location, and Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute, who raced her to show how the tool could edit genes in humans and is now in a battle with her for patents to the technology.

    Keep reading: https://airmail.news/issues/2019-7-2...the-best-genes
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    Default Re: Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

    I'm not a subscriber, so I can't read beyond what's posted here. I might be missing something, but to me the real questions are these: Should genes be sold at all? Should they be edited in the first place?

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    Default Re: Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

    Pattypans, I couldn't read beyond those paragraphs either, but I think just posing the question is provocative enough. I was trying to remember a pertinent quotation by Truman after the deployment of the atomic bomb. I couldn't find what I was looking for, but this one by General Omar Bradley comes close:
    "The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living."
    — Omar Nelson Bradley

    I was teaching a capstone college seminar to graduating seniors in the mid-80s. The course title was "Great Issues in World Civilization," and in the final week or two we were discussing the future of genetic modification. It was in its infancy at the time; no crops had yet been genetically modified, nor had the pesticides used to destroy insects. That was close to 40 years ago, but I could see where it was going. I cautioned these students to pay close attention to our discussion, because in their lifetime they were going to have to vote on the ethics of genetically modifying human germlines.
    And here we are.

    Here's a pertinent excerpt from an article on Dr. He:
    "One broadly held view is that it is too early to use Crispr on the human “germ line”—genes of sperm, eggs and embryos—because changes will pass on for generations and present the specter of unintended consequences to the human race. Lab research has shown Crispr-Cas9 can edit genes other than the ones intended. This means it could disrupt other genes, impairing functions or predisposing people to infections."
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-a-c...es-11557506697
    Last edited by Islander; 05-22-21 at 04:53 PM.
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    Senior Member BandsAiud's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should the Rich Be Allowed to Buy the Best Genes?

    Greed and the lust for power will not allow humankind to use this knowledge in any manner close to beneficial. So, no.

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