• Question: What do you think are the negative effects of gene editing? Especially regarding the advanced gene editing which we will likely have in the future?

    Asked by god_is_a_me to Oliver on 14 Nov 2018.
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      Oliver answered on 14 Nov 2018: last edited 14 Nov 2018 11:52 am

      This is an excellent question. Any new (or existing) technologies have a mix of possible positive and negative effects. There are many negative effects noted with regard to gene editing. For instance, safety is a huge issue as there is always a risk of accidently causing harmful changes (gene editing is very precise, but mistakes are still made and this can cause significant damage). The worries are bigger when you also focus gene editing on making changes to DNA of future people/children (though gene editing on sperm/eggs, or early embryo) because the changes can be more extensive, permanent, irreversible and inherited though future generations – this is germline gene editing. Not so bad if the gene edits are good but if something goes wrong, or the edit is bad, then the negative effects are worse than if it only happened to one person, to a limited degree. Other people view gene editing as positive if used for new treatments, but that it should be ethically wrong, and legally banned, to use it for enhancements. Enhancements can be seen to be unnatural, or would result in designer babies, or social divisions between people who can afford enhancements and those who cannot. There are also possible negative effects where gene editing causes changes in animals and plants too – especially for the environment and future generations. Personally, I think a lot of the possible negative effects will be less bad than people expect…people always fear what they do not know (which is very natural). But the risk of negative effects means we must keep examining the possible good and bad that can arise from gene editing to help regulate it to minimise the bad effects and maximise the good effects!
      You might find this interesting!: https://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_doudna_we_can_now_edit_our_dna_but_let_s_do_it_wisely?language=en