I was reading this article on the ethics of editing human genome and I realized there’s a missing point in there.
CRISPR in short is a technology that allows us to edit our own genome. Of course it has countless number of useful applications as it’s very simply depicted in the above picture (credit: economist). But recently Chinese scientists have genetically modified human embryos (link). Fortunately there’s been some discussion going on in the community about the ethics of editing human embryo’s genome, or in general human genome.
The question I want people to think about is: who should/will have access to this technology? Obviously this technology will be very expensive when it reaches the market. Does it mean only rich people will be able to use it? And I’m not talking about the applications which concern diseases; I’m rather talking about editing your child’s genome, to make it smarter, or stronger, or whatever you feel like it.
We already have too much of a difference between classes in our society. This difference has been empowered partially, if not mostly, by the fact that people have been able to accumulate wealth through time and even generations. If we allow them to be the ones benefiting a technology like CRISPR, we will practically give them the power to annihilate the lower classes through time.
One piece of good news is that some people are talking about how to regulate this sort of technology (link). I believe we should start a conversation about who should have access to the technology. This concern is regardless of how and what we decide about the ethics of the method for different applications. If we, as human species, decide not to use it at all, then nobody has access to it. But if we give it a go, then we should make sure all classes of the society have equal access to it. The least and the last we need is to have a rich sub-population with higher physical and mental capabilities.
EDIT: Thanks to Ian Sample, found a podcast by the guardian here.