First engineered microbes, then engineered babies: CRISPR creator says we could engineer species to fight climate change before achieving genetic perfection


These guys are freaking dangerous! One of the inventors of CRISPR gene editing, a new method to engineer genetic code, believes we could use the same techniques to tackle some of the biggest issues facing humanity right now, including climate change (I doubt it is one of the major issue we are facing right now!).

Crispr as a new technology against climate change?

In a new interview with MIT Technology Review, Jennifer Doudna, who received a 2020 Nobel Prize alongside colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for the discovery, said that CRISPR can be used to “enhance” the ability of microbial communities in the soil or water “for carbon capture.”

In other words he would like to create mutants… without knowing how these enhanced creatures could evolve in our environments… Another scary idea, no?

But of course, Doudna says “the futuristic idea is potentially high impact but also farther out.

There’s been a lot of focus on clinical medical uses of CRISPR,” she told MIT Tech. “However, I suspect that over the next decade, when we think about global impact and impact on daily lives, that’s where the uses in agriculture and even to address climate change will potentially have a much broader impact.

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Enhanced Resistance

The idea of using CRISPR to genetically enhance plants’ ability to suck up carbon dioxide has been around for at least a couple of years. For instance, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies’ Harnessing Plants Initiative is attempting to amplify plants’ root systems and production of suberin, their protective shell responsible for storing carbon dioxide.

Similar processes could be used to allow living organisms to store more carbon dioxide as well.

In addition to allowing plants to store more carbon dioxide, CRISPR could also allow them to become more adaptable to a climate-disrupted future.

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For instance, scientists at the University of California Berkeley are attempting to modify the genetics of rice, a major source of calories for humans around the globe, to be more resistant to droughts. The research is affiliated with Innovative Genomics Institute, which was founded by Doudna. But the research is still in its very early stages.

This is all very blue-sky at the present time,” Jill Banfield, a University of California at Berkeley ecosystem scientist and one of Doudna’s closest collaborators, told TIME in January. “First, we want to understand the pieces and how they fit together.

CRISPR is already proving extremely versatile, and while scientists are excited most of all for its clinical applications, its potentially groundbreaking effects on the global food chain and our efforts to tackle a growing climate crisis shouldn’t be underestimated.

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Creator of the first CRISPR babies released from prison

Meanwhile, on April 4, 2022, He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who shocked the world when it emerged in late 2018 that he had used CRISPR to tinker with the genetic code of IVF embryos, leading to the birth of twins who are likely the world’s first genetically modified humans, has been released…

He answered his phone for a brief call. His first words then were: “It’s not convenient to talk right now.” [The Bite, Tech Review]

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  1. Ha! Good catch. I’d never have put that together if you hadn’t pointed it out! You’re a sneaky ole sleuth man…

  2. They keep insulting God and perverting science to tinker with God’s creation. Seems like a good way to bring in earthquakes, pestilence, hailstones and fire and brimstone.
    You could potentially edit a person to have magical God-like qualities to deceive mankind into believing in a false messiah. That’s where this is headed.

    It looks like a man too. Jennifer DOUDNA How weird is that?

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