Sheng Yang regularly sends the He lab “papers of interest” (now shared on The Pub Club Scoop.it page) as well as interesting “science in the news” stories. Last December he sent us this Nature Comment article, Genome-editing revolution: My whirlwind year with CRISPR, by Jennifer Doudna, one of the leading researchers on the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. As I read through the article it occurred to me that this would be a great RCR discussion topic for a Pub Club meeting as it highlights not only the need for increased discussion within the scientific community on this important issue, but also the need for us as scientists to be thinking about the broader impacts of our work and to always be prepared to discuss our work and its relevance outside of the scientific community.
In preparation for The Pub Club discussion, which is currently planned for May 6, 2016, I would suggest that everyone take a few minutes to read this comment article carefully. Clicking on the article title above will take you to the story. As you read, think about these questions:
- What are some of the broader implications of my research, especially regarding ethical concerns?
- Am I prepared to discuss these with non-scientists?
- How can I be better prepared?
As a part of our discussion, I would also like us to consider ways we can help provide information regarding genetically modified organisms, including pros and cons, in a non-technical way to our friends and family. One of the best ways to start a conversation like this is to be aware of current stories in the news regarding GMOs, especially the misinformation often included! Between now and our discussion on May 6th, if you see or hear of a news story involving GMOs, please share it with the group by using the comment box below. This will give us some great material for discussion.
2 thoughts on “The Ethics of Genome Editing: An RCR Discussion Topic”
As many of you will hear this week, the National Academy has weighed in on the issue of genome editing with crops. This Recent Science Article is relatively surface in scope but highlights the current scientific thoughts on this topic.
An interesting implication with Sugar and GM acceptance has also been in the news. Recently Hershey’s has taken an approach to a GM free chocolate and Mars chocolate company is considering labeling GM containing candy and producing GM free alternatives. This has huge implications on the dynamics between sugar beets and sugar cane and the lasting impacts will be both economic, ecologic, and biological. Here is a recent NPR story (which you can listen to!) covering the latest information.
Check out this perspective article in the January 22, 2016 issue of Science on “Editing policy to fit the genome” (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6271/337.full). They discuss the current ethical issues regarding manipulation of human DNA, the need for standard definitions for terms such as “human embryo” and the need for setting “thresholds of acceptability.”