Step aside CRISPR, the world isn’t ready for you yet


Kevin Chen

While CRISPR does sound like a safe and well-rounded idea, as there have been over 30 years since it was first introduced, many details and specifics are left uncontrolled.

The future is now. With high-speed internet devices that can look up anything you could ever ask for in just a click of a button available to almost anyone, the world has seen increased technological and scientific changes in the past decade. Although most of these changes are quite minute – slightly faster loading speeds, new and improved lab equipment, and a technical improvement on practically everything available in the average person’s daily life- some are much more drastic. One good example of these drastic changes revolves around genetic coding and editing.

CRISPR, a gene-editing technology, is a relatively new science created in 2012 that has taken the world by storm. Its ability to be injected into a human, edit and remove unwanted genes, and leave the body without a trace could be a crucial part of life in the coming years. Although this technology was first discovered in 2008, it has taken time to figure out the logistics. While CRISPR does sound like a safe and well-rounded idea, as there have been over 30 years since it was first introduced, many details and specifics are left uncontrolled. Because this technology is not fully controllable, edits of the wrong gene in the body are entirely possible. Additionally, because of CRISPR’s inaccurate abilities, the individual cells cannot be loaded into the body in large numbers. This solely elongates the process and impacts the CRISPRs accuracy, as it cannot move as a group to a single strand of DNA. Furthermore, there is always the possibility of mosaicism. Mosaicism is when some genes in a DNA strand are edited, but the remaining ones are not. This can have detrimental impacts on the cells in the skin, brain, or other organs in the body. So, although CRISPR can help edit genes and create stronger, more sustainable humans, there are too many safety concerns that leave much of the procedure up in the air.

Another issue with CRISPR is the justice and equity problems surrounding it. Like many luxurious aspects of life, CRISPR gene editing will likely only be accessible to the wealthy that can afford the treatment. The main concern with this issue is the growing healthcare disparities this will cause, as the consistent usage of CRISPR would only further the already established healthcare gap in America. While the future goal of CRISPR is to one day eliminate different sets of traits from society, it would likely not be available to most people. So, there would be no significant societal changes as CRISPR would not become an everyday part of life for all.

Overall, the usage of CRISPR is very unsafe and irresponsible. Although it has been tested for more than 30 years, the problems revolving around it are too impactful on the human body and social aspects of life. The significant genetic issues it can cause mixed with the explicit aim to the wealthy can only cause more equity gaps across America and worldwide. So, even though CRISPR is an intriguing idea that may be a vital part of the future, much like smartphones in today’s society, at this point, it is simply not an idea that should be rallied behind. Once scientists understand and fix CRISPRs problems with gene editing specificity while creating more cells to ensure that it is an accessible commodity in everyone’s life, we can begin the conversation. But, until the technology further evolves, stick with your original and unique genes for the good of yourself and the community around you.