Genetics and Life Sciences
The debate on the new Frontiers of Genetics
With the coming age of Gene Eediting, a debate on the ethics, risks and opportunities of this technology is heating up.
This video from the PEW institute is an introduction to the salient points of this debate, with further details in subsequent paragraphs.
The OECD is also regularly publishing so-called consensus documents on safety of GMO's: any such assessment is a very complex process, which has to embed the biology of the organism, and evaluate the impact of the modifications of the whole transformation chain (i.e. from farm to fork), with the resulting side effects.
Frontiers of Genetics
Genetics has achieved phenomenal progress in the last few decades, and this will be a science that will have a major impact in the solving of societal issues.such as health, food safety or environment. The webpage of Swissgen provides (in french or german) a basic introduction and a briefing on genetic engineering for non-specialists....
The progress in genetic engineering are simply daunting. But at the same time, so do the controversies related to them. The leaflet of SwissGen (in french or german) is providing an excellent introduction to the tools, techniques, and applications.
In terms of societal acceptance, we have to differentiate the areas of implementation, with :
- the red genetic engineering, related to medical applications, has the easiest acceptance,
- the green genetic engineering, related to plant physiology and agriculture, is facing the sharpest controversies,
- and the white genetic engineering, related to industry, has the least visibility so far....
CRISP-Cas9, and gene editing
The latest progress of genetic engineering relate to technology named CRISP-Cas9 that, together with the power of data processing, is providing now the ability to edit genes, and select or generate specific functionalities. These techniques are explained in this introductory article of NATURE, which is providing as well a CRISP special edition elaborating on the progress, tools and issues related to these promising developments.
Such developments open now he path to human genetic editing, i.e. human engineering. With this comes the debate about widening the gap on equity, and also that the apprentice sorcerer is loosing control of the machine.The PEW institute has conducted a poll in USA about the acceptance of human gene editing, and clearly, we will have an issue here, ....
Already now, scientists claim that this technology has revolutionized the way we approach genetic disorders or even infectuous diseases. And it has potential to provide solutions in agriculture to increase resilience and productivity at the farm's level.