Chapter 12 Discussion Forum – Genome Engineering and CRISPR part 2
Comment on at least two of your peers’ posts in the forum. Try to post something substantive…so not just “yeah me too!” type posts! It’s ok if you agree with them or think they stated something well and you can say that, but then explain WHY you agree or state what they said that was particularly helpful to you. You can also disagree as long as you remain polite and constructive.
Based on the knowledge I already have about how much more conscious Europe seems to be, due to the banning of numerous chemicals, better food standards, and now knowing they have strict laws and regulations against this type of science, I don’t know why I don’t live there. That being said, I’m sure most of you think this type of technology has great potential, however I think the complete opposite. I have mentioned this before, and I will say it again, that there needs to be more respect for the natural cycle of life. I say that having lost people to some pretty horrible diseases and still stand firm in my belief.
Noel’s whole basis in this video is to being able to provide food for every human and projected that there would be nine billion people on earth by 2050. My response is, “Well, no s**t!” If we are prolonging life and editing out certain genes in fetuses, of course that is an issue, because there is a natural cycle of life and death. For centuries, dating back to the quest for the fountain of youth and even before, humans have sought to harness immortality. Personally I don’t understand why we are so obsessed with not dying. It doesn’t matter if you are religious, spiritual, or just believe in science, the fact is we are all energy and a basic law of physics is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
Back to the video, Luke states, when explaining about how he uses CRISPR with mice to test cancer cells, “we can’t turn genes on and off as easily as in a mouse, they engineer mice specifically for that purpose, but can understand the pathways that go awry and then design drugs and other type of therapies to intervene in those pathways. So, ultimate goal is to understand the genetics and figure out a way to apply it with a drug”.
Lets break this down, they first give the mice cancer (not naturally occurring), hence the word engineer. Then they try to look for the pathways that cancer cells use to ultimately design a drug. Which tells me they are trying to design a new drug to cure cancer that has been engineered in a lab that never naturally occurred in the mouse to only further fuel the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company. Meanwhile, these labs and schools are receiving billions of dollars in grant money from the government. George said one unsuccessful project (pig organ harvesting) had a billion dollars invested. As stated before, this is frequently in the form of government funded grants, which is guess what: your tax dollars at work. And if a project is “successful”, that company or team of scientists receives a patent for their work and then you pay again if a doctor ever determines you’re in need of the product of their research. You might say, “It won’t cost me a thing, I have health insurance”, but trust me, you’re still paying for it somehow, even if the register at the pharmacy says “$0.00” when you check out.
Again, I am going to say our bodies are designed to heal themselves and cancer, as well as many other diseases, grows in an acidic environment. Many people who address these type of illnesses from a holistic perspective focus on balancing the body’s pH. Growth of these types of diseases is stunted in a pH neutral environment. Hence the reference I have made about Dr. Sebi in previous posts, pH balance was his whole basis of healing diseases. There isn’t a magic pill, it takes conscious effort to know what the body needs to keep it happy and healthy. What you put in your body, you get out.
Some other thoughts I have about this technology, though only briefly mentioned in the video, was: though you can identify some genes, you can’t identify all the genes in our DNA. Therefore, how do you know how CRISPERing one or two genes here or there affects the genes whose purpose or function we do not know? If we don’t even know what all our genes do, how do we know how that will affect the rest of our genes?
Then there is this whole concept of gene editing and parents being able to “customize” their unborn children, like they’re buying a new car. Harry said that they did a survey and the consensus was that everyone wanted control over their unborn children’s genetics, with IQ and athleticism being primary genes they would want to optimize. So, lets think about that, if everyone starts designing these super intelligent and super athletic children how will anyone be different? And does that sound like any fascist German dictators from the early to mid 1900’s to you? Trying to create a “master race” of humans based on what were viewed as preferable traits and abilities? Adolf… uh… what was his name? There will be no competition and nothing to work for because everyone will be these superior children. Who will even teach these children if they are more advanced than their elders?
Another comment made by George regarding genetically modified foods was, “genetic modified foods do not have obvious taste or even economic benefits to the average grocery store shopper”. My question to George would be, “According to who?” I can tell a significant difference in taste and also how genetically modified foods affect my body and make me feel, when compared to their organic counterparts. Though I may pay more for my unmolested foods and household products, I can easily justify the cost for the benefit I taste and feel.
I could go on with my questions and concerns about this technology, including how this could be used in the wrong hands and/or in a terrorist situation. I have four pages of notes and questions I jotted down while watching this (in complete horror for the duration). At least Luke had enough sense to ask, “at what point does this become Jurassic Park?”. I will stop here though, overall, I commend the EU yet again for having laws and regulations against this type technology. Admittedly, I have not looked into their specific laws and regulations regarding this type of technology, but the fact that this panel mentioned several times that the EU already has strict laws and regulations is a positive thing, at least in my organic-vitamin-A-supplemented eyes.
When viewing this discussion I felt the stance held by the panel was that they had some reservations (not objections), and that a cautious, mindful approach should be taken when beginning to exercise the limits of this technology’s capabilities. Also, it seemed that they all acknowledged that, for the purpose of research, CRISPR is an excellent tool to maximize the efficiency of the process because it allows them to study a greater number of genes.
I think CRISPR has the potential to do a lot of good in addressing starvation. As one scientist mentions, “poverty drives us all down”. I appreciated the comment that Josephine Johnson made about the potential harm that CRISPR could cause. It could motivate parents to think only about how they can perfect their children. I also appreciated how she mentioned that we should not forget what it truly means to be a parent when navigating the parent-child relationship. A significant part of this relationship is cherishing and loving children for who they are as well as being surprised by how they grow and change throughout their adolescence and teen years.
After listening to this lecture, I read an article called “How CRISPR Will Affect Autism (& the Status in 2021)”. This article touches on how studies have found CRISPR changes to specific genes associated with autism in mice and primates that reduce the symptoms of autism. CRISPR technologies have successfully been used to limit repetitive behaviors in mice that have a type of fragile X syndrome. However, it is also mentioned that there are 100 plus genetic conditions that have been connected to autism. One potential challenge is that CRISPR treatment is that there are many genetic conditions linked to autism so any developed treatment will require tailoring to the individual. Additionally, gene mutations are believed to not be the only cause linked to Autism. Thousands of genes have been associated with Autism however, scientists also point to environmental factors. At the moment CRISPR technology is believed to not be a cure, but a way to reduce the symptoms.
Hearing about the potential of CRISPR to treat autism brings up important questions such as: what are the limits of CRISPR? What criteria will decide who has access? Also, what lengths will some parents go to perfect their child and squash neurodiversity? Ongoing conservations which include both scientists and self-advocates I feel are necessary to determine boundaries and set rules as the potential uses of the technology continue to be unfolded.
A. (2021, January 15). How CRISPR Will Affect Autism (& the Status in 2020). The Elemy Learning Studio. https://www.elemy.com/studio/autism/crispr/ (Links to an external site.)
World Science Festival. (2016, August 6). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCShHFwKyhcDo3g7hr4f1R8A?feature=emb_ch_name_ex
A. (2021, January 15). How CRISPR Will Affect Autism (& the Status in 2020). The Elemy Learning Studio. https://www.elemy.com/studio/autism/crispr/