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What's Too Far?

The marriage of technology and genomics is enabling researchers and consumers to learn more and more about their genetic background and risk of disease and empower people to take better control of their health. But, Karthika Muthukumaraswamy wonders at the Huffington Post whether this will be taken too far.

The CRISPR gene-editing tool, though still in its infancy in many regards, allows researchers to target and precisely change DNA sequences, and has been applied to genetically engineer lab animals, including monkeys, she notes. While its use in humans is controversial, she says it may be inevitable as companies based on the technology pop up and as transhumanists discuss the possibility of children with higher intelligence or better strength.

Muthukumaraswamy adds, though, that such genomic tweaks might not have the intended effects and that researchers say that such an ability is years away. Closer to reality, she says, is the ability to alter sequences involved in genetic diseases, especially single-gene disorders.

"But is this technology leading us down a road where its use could one day be justified — for individual or public health?" she asks.