The discussions about the ramifications of the gene-editing tool CRISPR have largely been within academic halls, writes Brendan Foht at the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard. There, he notes, molecular biologists and bioethicists have raised questions about how genome editing could be misused or manipulated and how it could affect those with disabilities or who are minorities.
In Nature in March, Sheila Jasanoff from the Harvard Kennedy School and Benjamin Hurlbut from Arizona State University called for the creation of a global observatory for gene editing to open up the gene-editing discussion more widely to include additional voices and to also foster cross-talk across disciplines.
But Foht argues that the time for academic discussions is over. "Groups that have serious concerns about how these technologies might be used — including people with disabilities, minorities, and the pro-life community — don't need another academic forum for 'conversation,'" he writes. "They need to organize politically to force policymakers to take the steps needed to prevent this technology from being abused."