[Flash Forward] Snip Snip Snip

Snip Snip Snip

18/12/2018 by Rose Eveleth

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=60505763
Episode: https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.megaphone.fm/PPY9699673008.mp3?updated=1545163116

At long last, we’re doing genetic editing. What’s the deal with the recent news about CRISPR babies? What does a future full of human genetic editing look like? And how might CRISPR change the food we eat?
Guests: Sarah Zhang, reporter at The Atlantic Greta Johnsen, weekend anchor at WBEZ, co-host of Nerdette Alice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility Project Alison Van Eenennaam, researcher at UC Davis →→→ Further reading and sources HERE ←←←

Paper mentioned in the Policygenius ad: “National culture and life insurance consumption”
Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

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Listen Date: 2019-02-14


  • Perhaps I’m being ornery; but the main thing “Yes but” which I kept thinking of again and again throughout the first half was ‘If CRISPRing your kids to achieve a certain end is immoral because of possible unknown consequences, just having kids at all, in any way possible, is immoral too.’
  • But the point about how a certain genome needn’t actually be advantageous over another at all, but still be grounds for societal discrimination, spoke to me. And since my mind had already got on to the ‘Having kids is morally fraught’ track; just accelerated my careering down with ‘People are scum, let’s not make any more.’
  • But while the show did say that there’s no one single gene for X trait except in rare cases; so there’s no one gene for intelligence, say; what would happen, ethically, if we were to find the vast majority of genes that did influence it; and if they weren’t influencing other things?
  • When Alice Wong, the disability activist, talked in terms of letting autonomous humans deciding if they wanted to be gene spliced or not; and not subjecting embryos to it; it just got right back to the problem of consent in birth.
  • On a more cheerful note; and the second half – the scientist who was talking about being a girl who was out to create only boy cows; while there was a boy scientist who was out to create only girl hens – so wholesome.

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