News Alert: Nobel Prize in chemistry given for development of CRISPR-cas9

Credit: Time Magazine

A simple, yet enormously powerful tool, CRISPR-cas9, is at the centre of Emmanuelle Charpentier's and Jennifer Doudna's Nobel Prize award. Only developed a few years ago, it is powering research in disease-resistant crops, new therapies for cancer, and hereditary disease.

There are a multitude of potential uses, which include battling climate change. Plants could potentially be engineered to store more carbon or to withstand extreme weather.

While the controversies and dangers are not to be downplayed, they cannot be used to fear monger current ethical research. Somatic editing research, editing that only affects the individual but not its offspring, should be permitted because of the aforementioned benefits. Yet Canada's current laws are too broad, painting all of gene-editing with one brush.

In particular, pressure needs to be applied to the federal government to reform the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act.