With any new technology there is concern for potential side-effects that should be considered.
The ethical concerns on CRISPR have been listed in the red boxes, while CRISPR's benefits are listed in the green boxes.
CRISPR has potential to eradicate many illnesses, such as malaria, cancer, or HIV. This can solve the present and future suffering of millions.
CRISPR offers an efficient way to activiate or inhibit genes, as well as recreate body systems for testing. This opens up more effective ways of studying drugs, potentially improving their safety and efficacy.
CRISPR can help create bigger livestock and stronger crops, increasing the amount of food we produce. This surplus of food may help us end or help end world hunger.
Cheap and Easy to Use
Once set up, CRISPR is relatively simple to implement compared to previous gene-editing techniques. It mainly involves injecting a specific RNA sequence and Cas9 protein dual into the target cell.
Although important, these concerns are a long way off into CRISPR's future. For now, CRISPR has already had a few small successes, such as encoding a gif into a bacteria's genome or implanting a $50 Amazon giftcard in DNA molecules. This opens up the possibility for molecular messengers - with code encrypted in the building blocks of life.
Fallen into the wrong hands, CRISPR's powers could be used for biological warfare, such as viruses resistant to most common drugs or altered insects that spread a fatal poison in a population.
CRISPR's gene-editing may be used to dictate traits such as hair color or eradicate genetic diseases in babies. This brings up the question, should we be playing god with nature?
Potential Increased Risk of Cancer
The p53 gene, which creates a natural defense mechanisms against the edits that CRISPR creates, has been shown to prevent certain tumors from developing when working properly. However, a successful CRISPR edit implies that the cell's p53 gene is not working well. Implanting successfully CRISPR edited cells into a patient may increase their risk of cancer by implanting cells with faulty p53 genes.
Such a new technology would not be cheap the first time around. This may create an inequality gap in not only wealth but also in genetics, where the rich are able to pay to ensure that their children are healthy, strong, and attractive, all traits which gene-editing may be able to create.
Long-term Effects Unknown
Due to its recency, we don't know the long-term effects of CRISPR. The edited DNA may unravel over time, or CRISPR-Cas9 may increase risks of illnesses we aren't aware of.