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    Is genome-editing technology a threat

    A global threat assessment released on Feb. 11th by U.S. director of national intelligence James Clapper placed “genome editing” among six threats listed in the section on weapons of mass destruction, alongside the nuclear prospects of Iran, North Korea and China.
    The inclusion of CRISPR and related techniques in the gallery of rogues came as a surprise to some bioweapons experts, MIT Technology Review reports, though there has already been speculation that ever cheaper and more efficient editing techniques could allow terrorists to develop crop plagues or deadly viruses that shred our DNA. Bioethicist Francoise Baylis, who also spoke at AAAS and who took part in the international summit that debated gene editing last year, said the technology behind gene editing could be dangerous on a global or individual level. “I think bioterrorism is a reality, and a risk factor we need to take into consideration,” she said. “It’s like any dual-use technology that can be used for good or evil.”
    The American public has also registered its fears about CRISPR’s potential. In a 1000-person poll released today by STAT and Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, 65% thought it should be illegal to alter the genes of unborn babies to reduce the risk of serious diseases, and 83% opposed such editing to improve “intelligence or physical characteristics.”