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.
We know surprisingly little about juvenile dinosaurs, so every time a paleontologist uncovers a clutch of eggs or embryos, it is cause for celebration – at least until someone in the media gets hold of the story and asks The Dreaded Question: “Is Jurassic Park only a few years away?” or some variant thereof.
Being a member of said media, I am occasionally assigned one of these stories. And, although I don’t much care for sensationalism in science coverage, I’m generally too thrilled to be researching dinosaurs and cloning to complain very much. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to tell a deeper story, like this one.