The genetically engineered food experiment has crossed over into many other arenas, including medicine and now even the editing of human and animal life.
The newest form of genetic engineering is the CRISPR “gene editing” technique, which already has been put to use in the creation of new GMO apples, potatoes and mushrooms that are expected to hit store shelves soon (despite concerns from a new Columbia University study showing that CRISPR may cause hundreds of unintended mutations).
While some scientists believe that this “more precise” version of genetically modifying organisms in a laboratory is a highly useful tool, the aforementioned study has already caused widespread concern, and the stocks of some CRISPR-invested companies to drop by as much as 15 percent.
One of the creators of CRISPR, Jennifer Doudna, is among those who still believe the technique holds great promise.
But she also recently shared the story of a frightening dream about her own creation — one that crystallized the high stakes, and risks for that matter, of this powerful new technology.
Scientist Shares Story of CRISPR GMO Nightmare
With the spotlight squarely on her and the camera rolling, Doudna spoke about the technique she co-created in a video and interview posted on the website Bigthink.com,
“Well, CRISPR is an acronym that actually represents a sequence of DNA letters in the genomes themselves. It is found in bacteria and it was interesting to scientists originally because it’s a bacterial immune system, a way that bacteria can fight viral infection,” Doudna explains in the video.
“So the CRISPR gene editing technology is a tool that scientists can use to change the letters of DNA in cells in precise ways,” she says, noting its ability to change the instructions in each cell.
The technology is far easier to use than traditional genetic engineering, which means it could allow thousands of scientists to “play God” with our food, animal and even human genes.
Doudna believes CRISPR could hold the key to finding the “cure” to diseases that have vexxed modern medicine for years such as sickle cell anemia. It could also allow scientists to genetically modify animals like pigs to create organs for human transplants, or mosquitoes for eliminating disease they may carry.
But critics remain skeptical, noting the recent Columbia study showing that this new CRISPR GMO process may not be so precise after all, causing hundreds of unintended gene mutations.
And then there’s the bigger question of just how far scientists will take this technology.
Already, they’ve created genetially engineered apples that don’t turn brown like regular apples, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
While Doudna seems mostly positive talking up her CRISPR technology in the video below, she also relays her experience of a frightening nightmare she had about her own creation — Adolf Hitler and the aforementioned pig genes are prominently involved.
“In the dream it was a terrifying thing, and I really felt real just stone-cold fear in the dream and sort of woke up from that dream…and realized this initial feeling of “what have I done?!”
She says the dream has motivated her to speak about the “careful consideration” and regulations that should be required of this new GMO technology, despite her insistence on it being a benefit to human society.
What do you think? Is the dream a sign of bad things to come, or just a strange coincidence? Watch the video below and let us know what you think in the comments section.