Radio Atlantic: The First Gene-Edited Babies

A scientist has claimed he used the revolutionary CRISPR gene technology on human embryos, igniting a global controversy.

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A Chinese researcher recently announced the birth of the first genetically edited babies. The claims remain unverified, but the news shocked and dismayed scientists around the world, touching off a scandal that has only grown.

Atlantic staff writers Ed Yong and Sarah Zhang often write about the revolutionary technology the researcher used: CRISPR. Speaking with Matt Thompson on this week’s Radio Atlantic, Ed and Sarah describe some of its incredible applications. From curing diseases to creating new crops of food, the possibilities seem limitless.

CRISPR is also deceptively easy to use though, which is why a researcher working in secret was allegedly able to use it to create human embryos without anyone knowing.

Listen in to learn why scientists were so aghast to hear the news, why another genetics scandal from the 1990s helps explain this moment, and why the designer babies and Dr. Moreau hybrids people often fret over with gene-editing might not be what we should be worrying about.


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Ed wrote about the CRISPR baby scandal breaking and getting worse by the day.

Sarah interviewed a CRISPR pioneer and spoke with Chinese scientists outraged by reports of gene-edited babies.