From Cloned Beef to Micropig Pets, We’re Playing God by Editing Genes

cloned

People are talking of this being as important in long-term impact as the moon landing. Others say it might be the biggest scientific breakthrough ever. The smell of a coming Nobel Prize hangs heavy in the air.

The excitement is about gene editing, a technology that is offering the prospect of re-writing bits of the human genome — or any creature in the Earth’s planetary genome. This week, those at the heart of this movement gathered to celebrate recent achievements and tackle difficult questions at a four-day Gene Editing Summit in Washington DC.

Since Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996, cloning has become widely used, especially in agriculture. For $100,000, you can even have your pet cloned in South Korea. But many see cloning as a step too far in manipulating life. If you can clone a sheep, what’s to stop anyone from cloning a human? Some say it’s already possible to do so.

Animal gene editing is being used to create miniature pigs, cows without horns and hairier cashmere goats.

The largest cloning factory in the world, being built in Tianjin, China by the Boyalife Group, is aiming for one million cloned cows by 2020. You may soon have the option to eat cloned steak. Chief executive Xu Xiaochun claims that while the cloning of humans is feasible, the company is holding off “for fear of public reaction.”

Outcry arose earlier this year when China used gene editing on human embryos. More recently, UK researchers have applied for a license to do the same. Animal gene editing is being used to create miniature pigs, cows without horns and hairier cashmere goats.

Gene-editing technology goes beyond “copying” life —> Read More

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