Genome editing in context
Genome editing has created a new continuum between what might occur in nature and what can only occur in the laboratory. Remarkable though it is that we have developed the capacity to predictably and finely alter genetic codes it is perhaps as remarkable that a new technology enabling this has appeared, spread widely and become easily affordable and accessible within such a short timescale. The speed at which the CRISPR/Cas9 technology use has grown almost defies comparison. A factor contributing to this, and also to the complexity of the surrounding debates, is the sheer breadth of possible applications of the technology, in terms of target organisms and genetic constructs, and in terms of the processes it could be used to influence. These combined characteristics, while opening a world of possibilities for science and society, also present a pressing and complex set of questions about governance and regulation; it is difficult to have appropriately informed discussion let alone for regulation to keep pace.
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