‘Do-it-yourself’ CRISPR kits. How much should we worry?

crisprkit+resize-edFrom the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control website.

«On 24 March 2017, German authorities reported the contamination of a ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR kit with pathogenic bacteria (risk group 2), including some that are multidrug-resistant with production of Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL). The kits are produced in the United States and sold over the internet, targeting non-professional users who want to study biology and life science using similar biotechnology engineering tools found in laboratory settings. In its risk assessment published today, ECDC identifies the risk of infection for users of the kits unaware of the contamination with pathogenic agent as low, as the manipulation of the kit does not involve percutaneous injury-prone manipulations. Continue reading

Edited crops, organic farming and Greenpeace Mag

fiblThe German publication Greenpeace Magazin interviewed Urs Niggli, the director of FiBL, a leading research institute on organic agriculture. In his opinion genome editing is going to be useful and edited crops should not be classified as GMOs but assessed on a case by case basis. The text below by Frauke Ladleif was translated and posted with the kind permission of Greenpeace Magazin/Hamburg. Continue reading

The art of learning from microbes

ecoli-1184pxBy Antonio Polito

Do you remember Dolly, the sheep cloned 20 years ago? I was one of the many going on pilgrimage to visit her in its golden prison at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh. And like other reporters I was worried while talking with Dolly’s “father” Ian Wilmut, about practical and ethical implications of the breakthrough, which appeared huge at the time. Media were boiling with awe and outrage: is human cloning the next step? It would be evil or blessing? Are we playing God?  Continue reading