USA - Gene Editing Now a Looming Reality

Arno Froese

Ask any expectant couple what they hope their baby will be, and one answer is likely to be “healthy.”

But one gene gone awry can imperil a child’s health, causing serious disease or a disability that leaves one more susceptible to health issues. With advances in gene-editing technology, though, biomedicine is entering an uncharted era in which a genetic mutation can be reversed, not only for one person but also for subsequent generations.

While still highly theoretical when it comes to eliminating disabilities, gene editing has drawn the attention of the disability community. The prospect of erasing some disabilities and perceived deficiencies hovers at the margins of what people consider ethically acceptable.

“There absolutely must be broad public discussions about whether we’re ready to use something that has an unprecedented capability of making changes that have the potential to be passed on to subsequent generations,” said Dana Carroll, a biochemistry professor at the University of Utah who is interim director of the Public Impact Program at the Innovative Genomics Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

The debate grew more heated in 2018, after a scientist in China announced the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies—twin girls—using CRISPR to give them immunity to H.I.V. The announcement generated outrage around the world. In December 2019, a court in China sentenced the scientist to three years in prison for carrying out “illegal medical practices.”

Professor Meghan Halley, a bioethics researcher at Stanford University, acknowledged the inherent tension between the huge benefits that gene-editing technology could bring in preventing serious diseases and disabilities for which there is no treatment, and what she calls the “potential risk of going down a road that feels uncomfortably close to eugenics.”

Less ethically freighted are therapies to cure serious diseases in people who are already living with them. “I think that there are opportunities to use gene-editing technologies to treat genetic diseases that don’t raise the societal implications of altering permanently patterns of human inheritance,” said Dr. Alex Marson, director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology in San Francisco., 22 July 2020

Arno's commentary

The debate is endless, pro and con. But the unknown is nothing but frightening.

Quite interestingly, communist China sentenced the scientists who created “the world’s first gene-edited babies” to three years in jail for illegal medical practices. 

Indeed, the old-fashioned answer is still valid today; when the parents are asked what they hope the baby will be, the answer is one word: healthy. That is in the hands of God, and that’s where we ought to leave it.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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