The news that scientists in Oregon have been experimenting on human embryos brings my book Matriarchs: Eliza’s Revenge a little too close for comfort. I thought I was writing about the far future, but it turns out this is happening in my lifetime and right in my backyard. Technology Review reports:
The first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon.
The scientists are using CRISPR, a new gene-editing technique. The development of CRISPR has moved research forward exponentially and the unintended consequences are probably — well, so far beyond what scientists intend that we may not even be able to imagine them. (But #scifi writers will try!)
As the National Review rather graphically puts it: “It may begin with curing disease. But it won’t stay there. Many are drooling to engage in eugenic genetic enhancements.”
We should try to put some brakes on the research and give society a chance to consider. We can’t agree on abortion, so we are certainly not going to agree on embryonic research. However, I agree with this from Commentary Magazine:
Scientific achievement cannot be prevented—Pandora’s Box cannot be un-opened, and it is far better that the person doing the opening is someone subject to laws and mores than someone beyond those constraints.