Crispr democracy: Gene editing and the need for inclusive deliberation

Sheila Jasanoff, James Hurlbut, Krishanu Saha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


CRISPR-Cas9 offers, a technological turn that seems too good for humankind to refuse. It is a quick, cheap, and surprisingly precise way to get at nature's genetic mistakes and make sure that the accidentally afflicted will get a fair deal, with medical interventions specifically tailored to their conditions. CRISPR raises basic questions about the rightful place of science in governing the future in democratic societies. As in moments of lawmaking or constitutional change, the emergence of a far-reaching technology like CRISPR is a time when society takes stock of alternative imaginable futures and decides which ones are worth pursuing and which ones should be regulated, or even prevented. Although CRISPR might produce treatments, people will benefit from them only if their ailments are the ones treated and only if they have adequate access to thera-pies. Access, in turn, depends in important respects upon the political economy of innovation. The apparent inevitability of CRISPR applications to editing embryos takes for granted the entire economics of biomedical innovation, with the assumption that the push to commercialize is by definition a universal good. The leaders of the research community recognize that trust is essential in securing public support for any recommendations on how to handle CRISPR, including rules for the manipulation of germline cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalIssues in science and technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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