Imagine Jennifer Doudna working in the lab overnight, her eyes sore, her head pulsing, and her mind swirling with an existential crisis. Utilizing a bacterial cell’s self-defense mechanism, the geneticist has mastered the ability to reproduce and guide gene-editing technology, otherwise known as CRISPR-Cas9. This technology could save countless lives, cure genetic diseases, and reverse the effects of cancer. But it could also advance efforts at human enhancement, leading to a revival of modern eugenics.
In December, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine held a three-day summit on CRISPR technology.
Don’t get Lizette Frielingsdorf wrong. She loved her three boys—Jordan, Justin and Jake. Yet somehow she felt incomplete, especially when watching her friends happily shop with their daughters or when recalling those special times when her own mother took her to the ballet.
"People will be inclined to give their children those skills and traits that align with their own temperaments and lifestyles,” writes Gregory Stock, an apostle of human genetic engineering who heads the program on Medicine, Technology and Society at UCLA. “A devout individual may want his child to be even more religious and resistant to temptation.”