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Gene editing can become new weapon of mass destruction

Inexpensive researcher’s’ kits, that allow to change the DNA of living organisms, can be a real danger if they fall into the hands of criminals.

According to the report posted on the Council’s website, there are kits for editing genes of the simplest bacteria using CRISPR-Cas9 technology available on the Internet at the price of £ 100 (8 thousand rubles).

Bioethics are concerned that an availability, ease of use and uncontrolled proliferation of such technologies can lead to dangerous consequences, because these kits can fall into the hands of untrained enthusiast or biohackers.

According to the organization’s data, a “DIY” kit, with the help of which you can grant immunity to E.coli against streptomycin, was sold online for $ 140 (about 8.8 thousand. rubles).

The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned about the risk of CRISPR technology’s proliferation in March.

He said that spreading of the gene editing can be compared to weapons of mass destruction in his annual worldwide threat assessment report.

CRISPR and Cas-9 technologies, unlike the widely used technology of adding a foreign gene to an organism, allow carrying out some changes in cells at the DNA level with the help of special proteins.

They can detect a given DNA in the human body, remove it and replace it with a new chain, developed by genetic engineers.

The expert group is also concerned that an untested technology can be used by unscrupulous farmers. It will be impossible to determine whether the gene editing technologies were used in the production of meat and dairy products due to the lack of regulatory authorities.

ʺThe whole gene editing technology either makes difficult to confirm products’ “purity” or makes it completely impossible,ʺ the Council member, professor John Dupré concluded.


  • October 14, 2016 10:32 AM MSK