And… Cut! 0

A pair of scissors could save the world. Well not normal scissors. Gene scissors. Of

course these aren’t actual scissors, you can’t Steiner your way through a felt collage with

these, these are for scientists into bio-craft. These are CRISPR scissors. CRISPR is

what sciencey peeps use to cut up DNA. Its an acronym for ‘clustered regular interspaced

short palindromic repeats’. Sounds like the anatomical reaction to a powerful curry, but

basically it means if you happen to be a molecular biologist then you can move a gene

from one organism to another. Or if you don’t want to move it per se, you can edit DNA

in a precise location. It’s basically a molecular version of cut and paste. To be more

precise, CRISPR is a naturally occurring bacterial defence system that can edit, add or

replace genes. This means that scientists have gone beyond just knowing the genome

sequence to being able to change the sequence in ‘beneficial’ ways. It works like this.

The molecular machine is made up of two molecules. A protein called Cas9 that cuts

DNA like a pair of molecular scissors, along with a piece of guide RNA that tells the Cas9

exactly where to cut the DNA. Kind of like a dressmaker pinning out a pattern on fabric.

Except we’re not making shorts. We’re selecting our future. We’re potentially driving

genetic changes that will spread through a population. We’re changing who we are. How

plants grow. What animals do. Snipping around with the building blocks of humans,

animals and plants, carefully crafting the newly disease resistant super adaptive species

to cope with the viral load and species deficiencies we were carrying into our climate

changed future. Clearly I’m not a scientist. I’m not even that good with regular scissors, let

alone gene scissors. But it seems this is an ethical hot pot. We’ve given up on changing

the practises that impact on the environment. The carbon increasing chemical filled

environment that causes increased allergies, cancer, low yielding crops and virulent

disease and decided that instead of adapting behaviour, we’ll speed up evolution and get

science to assist our environment to adapt to us. Obviously CRISPR has the potential to

cure anything from cole sores to cancer. If you are allergic to eggs they can create a

chicken that lays eggs without the proteins that cause the allergy. That won’t just be one

generation. Those chickens will then breed and create other chickens who lay allergy free

eggs. What’s next, chooks that lay omelettes? We’ve fucked nature up so now we’re

fucking with nature. While we’re at it, perhaps we should get a little more ‘big picture’ in

our approach to improve survival and start gene editing the real risk factors to ongoing

human habitation of planet earth. Forget plant diseases. Forget allergens. Forget cancer.

Lets focus on halting the system that bought us that shit. Free market capitalism. We’ve

got to get back to some low footprint living right now. So my scientists friends, get out

your gene scissors. We’ve got some serious editing to do. Lets start gene editing high

impact personality traits. Like fundamentalism. Snip that hateful shit right out. Terrorism,

war, hatred and bigotry should be pretty well eliminated. Next it might be good to scissor

out sociopathy. That should get rid of megalomaniacs like Putin, Murdoch and Trump. If

no one wants to climb the corporate ladder, the economic system switches from vertical

to horizontal. We share resources equally. But to do that we need to eliminate self

interest. Thats a little genetic ouch for all of us as we nip Narcissism in all it’s ‘me first’

glory. So now we’ve done that, let’s use some of CRISPR’s magic to add genes. Lets put

some empathy enhancement into the sequence. And rational intelligence. While I’ve got

the scissors out and I’m playing God I’m tempted to add big tits perfect teeth and

eliminate male pattern baldness, but once you move narcissism no-one will care. Our

future is on the chopping block. Will you make the cut?

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