Do We Have the Right to Edit the Genes of an Entire Species?


Scientists can now more cheaply and efficiently edit animal and human DNA using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system. But should we edit species, and if so, to what extent?

An interesting way to consider this question is by looking at mosquitoes.

A few specific species of mosquito carry and transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika virus. These mosquitoes infect hundreds of millions of people causing sickness and death each year. Today, scientists can genetically engineer these mosquitoes to be incapable of carrying these diseases—or even make them sterile—and then ensure the new genes are passed throughout a wild population with a technique called a gene drive. But should they?

In this week’s episode of Tech-x-planations, digital biology expert Tiffany Vora explores this heated question and reveals her own thoughts on how researchers can responsibly use this technology.