We Have the Technology to Destroy All Zika Mosquitoes

February 8, 2016: Read article in MIT Technology Review. Fear of the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and could be linked to severe birth defects, could generate support for gene drives, a radical technology able to make species go extinct. However, scientists have engaged in significant debate over this technology, as its long-term consequences are unknown and...

Scientists Get ‘Gene Editing’ Go-Ahead

February 1, 2016: Read article on BBC News. UK scientists have been given the go-ahead by the fertility regulator to genetically modify human embryos. It is the first time a country has considered the DNA-altering technique in embryos and approved it. The research will take place at the Francis Crick Institute in London and aims to provide a deeper understanding of the earliest moments of human...

Pope Francis Said to Bless Human-Animal Chimeras

January 27, 2016: Read article in MIT Technology Review. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a prominent stem-cell biologist, is engaged in efforts to grow human tissue inside of farm animals such as pigs, sheep, and cows. This type of research is sensitive because scientists have to inject human stem cells into early-stage animal embryos, then try to implant the embryos into surrogate animals in the hopes of producing fully-formed human organs for transplant. Belmonte told Scientific American that Pope Francis has personally blessed this ethically questionable research which may blur the line between human and...

Do Sperm Banks ‘Work in Eugenics?’

January 28, 2016: Read article in the Genetic Literacy Project. Vanessa Smith, a representative of the London Sperm Bank recently gave a press conference following allegations of discrimination. The sperm bank rejected a dyslexic donor, as dyslexia is one of many disqualifying neurological conditions for sperm donations. Speaking on behalf of the company, Smith said, “We are looking for someone who is medically clear of infectious diseases and genetic issues that may possibly be passed on to any resulting child.” She also claimed, “We definitely don’t work in eugenics.” She may mean something like, “In the popular mind, ‘eugenics’ is associated with Nazis, an association we wish to avoid.” But to shape future children, based on a policy that describes human variation as disease, is by definition...