Genetics and Bioethics
This homework we will explore the methods and impacts of gene editing on humans and plants
Gene editing and manipulation is a newer, but rapidly growing field. We have the ability to change, add or delete genes in human embryos, adults, and plants alike. We are going to explore both of these topics for this homework. You are to CHOOSE ONE of the ideas below and select the choice and click on the articles for more material and information.
Choice 1: Editing Human Embryos and Adults
With respect to gene editing in human embryos, most research is focused on fixing or removing harmful mutations that may cause diseases, but there are some fears of creating designer babies. In addition, we can edit the genes in adults, if we use a targeted approach. Read the articles below, and then respond to the prompt.
Questions to consider:
What is your take on the research? Are there any benefits and/or costs? Should we be focusing on this? Is there a reason for concern?
Articles for Editing Human Embryos and Adults
- Darnovsky, M., & Hasson, K. (2020). CRISPR’s Twisted Tales: Clarifying Misconceptions about Heritable Genome Editing. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 63(1), 155-176. doi:10.1353/pbm.2020.0012.
- A human has been injected with gene-editing tools to cure his disabling disease. Here’s what you need to know. (Kaiser, 2017) http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/11/human-has-been-injected-gene-editing-tools-cure-his-disabling-disease-here-s-what-you
- CRISPR fixes disease gene in viable human embryos (Ledford, 2017) https://www.nature.com/news/crispr-fixes-disease-gene-in-viable-human-embryos-1.22382
- The first CRISPR edited babies are (probably) here. Now What? From: Science Friday https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-first-crispr-edited-babies-are-probably-here-now-what/
Choice 2: Genetic Engineering of Plants
Genetically engineered crops are another controversial topic. They first began as a way to allow those in third world countries to grow crops that could survive in less than ideal conditions (such as drought tolerance, higher yield), and/or were higher in nutrition, meaning there was more benefit to each bite – dubbed the “Green Revolution.” You can read about it from Pingali (2012).
Questions to consider:
Is it ethically responsible to engineer plants? Does it make a difference whether they are geared towards first or third world countries? Will they help or hinder our efforts to feed the ever-growing world population?
Articles for Genetic Engineering in Plants
- Genetic engineering and GM crops (ISAAA, 2016) http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/17/default.asp
- Safety of genetically engineered foods (NRC, 2004) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215771/
- Genetically modified plants and human health (Key, Ma & Drake, 2008)http://doi.org/10.1258/jrsm.2008.070372
350-400 word excluding references, APA format, and a minimum of 3 references