We humans have been changing other organisms’ DNA for thousands of years through selective breeding as we domesticated many species of plants and animals. And for decades we have been testing out genetic engineering techniques, making bacteria produce insulin and other medicines, and growing crops like Vitamin-A-fortified rice. But with a new tool called CRISPR-CAS9, researchers hope to usher in a new era of genetic modification. But what is this molecule, how does it work, and what are its potential uses? And, just as importantly, what are the moral and ethical issues to consider? How can we move technology forward while addressing fictional character Ian Malcolm’s enduring Jurassic Park concern -- to not just consider if we could, but also, if we should.
Katie McKissick is the author and illustrator of Beatrice the Biologist. A former high school biology teacher, she simply loves to talk, write, and read about science. Based in Los Angeles, Katie contributes to the science and art blog, Symbiartic, and co-hosts the irreverent science podcast, Science Brunch. Her first book, "What's in Your Genes?", is a conversational overview of genetics. You can find her work at beatricebiologist.com.