Bioethical issues in genome editing by CRISPR-Cas9 technology

F. B. Ayanoglu, A. E. Elcin and Y. M. Elcin,  Turkish Journal of Biology,  44:110-120. 2020.

Genome editing technologies have led to fundamental changes in genetic science. Among them, CRISPR-Cas9 technology particularly stands out due to its advantages such as easy handling, high accuracy, and low cost. It has made a quick introduction in fields related to humans, animals, and the environment, while raising difficult questions, applications, concerns, and bioethical issues to be discussed. Most concerns stem from the use of CRISPR-Cas9 to genetically alter human germline cells and embryos (called germline genome editing). Germline genome editing leads to serial bioethical issues, such as the occurrence of undesirable changes in the genome, from whom and how informed consent is obtained, and the breeding of the human species (eugenics). However, the bioethical issues that CRISPR-Cas9 technology could cause in the environment, agriculture and livestock should also not be forgotten. In order for CRISPR-Cas9 to be used safely in all areas and to solve potential issues, worldwide legislation should be prepared, taking into account the opinions of both life and social scientists, policy makers, and all other stakeholders of the sectors, and CRISPR-Cas9 applications should be implemented according to such legislations. However, these controls should not restrict scientific freedom. Here, various applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology, especially in medicine and agriculture, are described and ethical issues related to genome editing using CRISPR-Cas9 technology are discussed. The social and bioethical concerns in relation to human beings, other organisms, and the environment are addressed.