"Scientists have long sought the ability to control and modify DNA—the code of life. A new gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 offers the potential for substantial improvement over previous technologies in that it is simple to use and inexpensive and has a relatively high degree of precision and efficiency. These characteristics have led many in the scientific and business communities to assert that CRISPR-Cas9 will lead to groundbreaking advances in many fields, including agriculture, energy, ecosystem conservation, and the investigation, prevention, and treatment of diseases.
Over the next 5 to 10 years, the National Academy of Sciences projects a rapid increase in the
scale, scope, complexity, and development rate of biotechnology products, many enabled by
CRISPR-Cas9. Concomitant with the promise of potential benefits, such advances may pose new
risks and raise ethical concerns. For example, recent experiments by Chinese scientists and others
that modified human embryos using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing have sparked ethical debates,
raising such concerns as how the genetic change would affect not only the immediate patient, but
also future generations who would inherit the change without choice...: