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Biotech at World Economic Forum 2018

In “Future Shocks: Rogue Technology,” panelist Feng Zhang, MIT neuroscience professor and one of the scientists who developed CRISPR gene editing, spoke of the promise and peril of advancing gene editing technology. “As we sequence more organisms, we can find interesting properties these organisms evolved to allow them to survive in their own environment and transfer some of those [properties] into other organisms…and prevent the extinction of species,” he said.

But he also emphasized the importance of exercising extreme caution when altering organisms’ DNA and developing a “containment mechanism” to control technologies that turn out to be dangerous for humanity.

The Forum announced a partnership between the Earth Bio-Genome Project and the Earth Bank of Codes. As part of the WEF’s Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth initiative, these organizations will collaborate to sequence the DNA of all life on earth, a hugely ambitious project estimated to take ten years and cost $4.7 billion.

Posted on February 19, 2018

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