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HAT Forum - "Genome Editing - A Dream Come True or Our Worst Nightmare?"

  • The 519, Rm 304 (Check Lobby Screen to be sure) 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

Genome editing is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism. Gene editing has been around in various forms since the 1970s. 

With the discovery of CRISPR and cas9 gene-editing, “what has been insane science-fiction is about to become our new reality, a reality full of opportunities and challenges.” according to the concluding lines of the overview video (see link below) on the new technology.

In November 2018 Chinese scientist Jiankui He announced that he had edited the genes in the embryos of twin girls to prevent the possibility of their developing HIV. The process did not work; when the girls were born they were still vulnerable to HIV. This was the first time that gene editing has been done on viable human embryos. The reaction of the scientific community was to condemn this work as unethical, dangerous and premature. 

BENEFITS 
-cure genetic diseases such as Down syndrome, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis
-produce an immunity against certain viruses
-engineer desired plant and animal traits such as increase in yield, longer storage time
-eradicate diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue
-transhumanists believe that gene editing can be used for human enhancement (“designer babies”)

RISKS
-potential weapon of mass destruction as harmful biological agents could be created
-unintended consequences that could be passed on to future generations
-not enough is known and treatments are a long way off. Too soon to be used on viable embryos or living human beings
-ethical implications of trying to eradicate physical or mental limitations from the population.

QUESTIONS 
-should gene editing on embryos and living people be banned permanently?
-is the genie out of the bottle and developments in this area inevitable?
-is the possibility of designer babies a good thing?
-why are GMO food products so controversial?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAhjPd4uNFY Kurzgesagt-In a Nutshell “Genetic Engineering-CRISPR”

Earlier Event: February 16
HAT Forum - "What is Race?"