A Crack in Creation

Gene editing and the unthinkable power to control evolution

Hardcover, 304 pages

English language

Published Jan. 4, 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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4 stars (2 reviews)

A trailblazing biologist grapples with her role in the biggest scientific discovery of our era: a cheap, easy way of rewriting genetic code, with nearly limitless promise and peril.

Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR—a revolutionary new technology that she helped create—to make heritable changes in human embryos. The cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known, CRISPR may well give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world’s hunger crisis. Yet even the tiniest changes to DNA could have myriad, unforeseeable consequences—to say nothing of the ethical and societal repercussions of intentionally mutating embryos to create “better” humans.

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Review of 'A Crack in Creation' on Goodreads

4 stars

Mostly from the author's personally-involved-lab-science perspective, focused history of gene editing, specific tech capabilities with CRISPR, and societal implications of a tool this accurate and cheap. Author is making a serious effort to speak publicly beyond the scientific community about potential rules and implications, in general she sees plant/animal modifications as obvious (wheat, pork - already fully/exclusively domesticated species), is worried about germline / gene drive changes to wild populations (mosquitoes, say), and thinks we need an Asilomar-like global ban on human germline modifications until we know more.

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4 stars