For the first time in the U.S., scientists have genetically modified human embryos. The technique could help screen out heritable diseases, but many worry where it might ultimately lead.
As rumors spread in advance of the publication, the story sparked comparisons with films like Gattaca and books like Brave New World, with their themes of genetic discrimination, DNA-as-destiny and the social dangers of tampering with human heredity.
But the research’s most important — and, to some, troubling — aspect lies in the fact that it alters the hereditary DNA known as the germline.
No one expects the machinery of progress to roll backwards, but sometimes it seems that no one is watching the speedometer (or manning the brakes, assuming any exist). Is this a fair assessment? If so, should we be worried — and what can we do about it?
In this feature, experts on technology, risk, science, policy and neuroscience discuss risk, innovation and how our values affect our conceptions of both.
As Congress eases rules for selling public lands and considers measures to weaken the Endangered Species Act, conservation efforts may rely increasingly on private facilities like the Phoenix Zoo, which supports its Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Native Species Conservation Center with a portion of its gate receipts.
It’s said that we all have a double somewhere in the world. It’s a haunting thought, but almost comforting compared to the harrowing tales of identity theft we hear on the nightly news. But, hey, we live in the age of fingerprints, DNA and CSI, right? The post-911 world of ever-more Orwellian identification requirements? Surely we’ve left cases of mistaken identity firmly in the past.