Consequences of Unregulated Use of CRISPR/Cas9 Technology on Humans and the Need for Regulation
NALSAR University of Law, India.
Volume II – Issue II, 2020
The ability for human beings to artificially alter their DNA, and change themselves from birth, physically and mentally, was set to become a reality when in 2018, a Chinese research claimed that he had created the first HIV resistant human being through a technology known as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR/Cas9).
This technology has a wide range of applications, from disarming viral vectors to pest control. However, the scope of this paper shall be limited to the application of CRISPR/Cas9 on human DNA.
One of the direct human applications is the selective targeting and deleting of harmful genes in the embryo’s DNA. The result is the possibility of saving the child from a potential genetic disease. While this is a positive application of this technology, unregulated usage of this would have negative consequences. Such negative effects will be discussed. This paper is split into three parts.
Firstly, the paper discusses general concern of the possibility of creating ‘designer babies’. The author proposes a restriction on the application of CRISPR/Cas9 for biological enhancement based on preference, rather than necessity would be proposed. This would be accompanied by a proposal to regulate CRISPR/Cas9 application on germline cells.
Secondly, the military application of this technology and its possible devastating effects would be discussed and regulation on the application of this in defence would be proposed.
And finally, the prematurity of the development of this technology would be acknowledged. This part focuses on the detrimental effect of the technology, such as mosaicism and high-frequency occurrences of off-target effects. Therefore, in order to avoid these effects, regulations would be proposed with the aim of restricting the procedures used to certain methods that minimize these effects. This paper would explore the various methods available that would help minimize these effects.