CRISPR enables scientists to alter the genomes of all living organisms faster, more economically and more precisely than ever before. “CRISPR will revolutionize medicine,” says pediatrician Ronald Cohn. He’s working in Toronto on a new therapy that could save thousands of children from diseases long found incurable.
CRISPR can also be used to give plants completely new characteristics: resistance against pests or drought. In the U.S. the first CRISPR plants are already in the fields. Even some organic farmers see new opportunities in the innovative breeding method and have doubts whether the total rejection of genetic engineering they’ve espoused till now is still justified.
Others are warning about new dangers. They’re afraid of opening Pandora’s Box and interfering with evolution. The new technology, after all, could not only cure diseases and produce new seeds, but also create designer babies in the future. For the first time, genome interventions are possible, which until now have been merely utopian dreams or horror scenarios.