Recently in China, scientists genetically engineered a beagle to double its muscle mass. The scientists juiced up the aptly named Hercules by “editing” a gene called myostatin. While scientists have been able to edit genes for some time, the advent of a powerful tool called CRISPRhas made gene editing — the insertion, deletion or modification of a gene in an organism — easier, cheaper and more precise. Although the case of the super-beagle raises potential ethical considerations related to the implications of inducing such dramatic changes in an animal, it also points to a broader set of issues that merit wider attention.
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