Pandora’s Box was ultimately opened in 2012, and hope and fear in the shape of CRISPR technology were set free: enzymatic scissors of the bacterial immune system (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) can be used to highly selectively remove any DNA sequence and replace it with another, which enables us to re-design any organisms building plan.
“Utopia seems more realizable than ever before. (…) How can we prevent its final implementation? (…) Maybe a new century will come, in which the intellectual class will think about how to prevent utopia and how to return to a non-utopian society, less perfect but free“, Nikolai Berdjajew (1874-1948).
Now, CRISPR modified butterflies and koi carps with customized patterns are available – and this is just the kick-off for the quickly arising CRISPR zoo. Scientists are working on anti-allergic pets, mini-animals, the revival of the mammoth and the extinction of ticks and mosquitos. Also our livestock will be improved: an optimized rate of growth, no dangerous horns for cattle anymore and a disease-resistance for pigs.
Even though the mothers and fathers of CRISPR technology requested ethical awareness from their colleagues, Eve’s apple was too tempting and first reports of human embryo editing were released.
Should we really mess with nature? We have been manipulating nature for centuries by inbreeding of animals, controlled crossings of crop plant and more recently by in vitro-fertilization and attempts of cloning – but genome editing with CRISPR brings us a huge step closer to utopia: a brave new world without pests, populated by efficient, optimized animals and humans…
Are we ready for this?
XOXO, your Nerd