Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gene editing deemed a national security threat according to government report

In the government’s annual report of national security threats, released Tuesday, a new entry made the list: genome-editing.

Gene editing is now considered a national security threat alongside cyberattacks and nuclear weapons. That is, at least according to the government's latest annual report on national security threats. In his report to Congress, director of national intelligence James Clapper said genome-editing research “probably increases the risk of the creation of potentially harmful biological agents or products,” whose “deliberate or unintentional misuse might lead to far-reaching economic and national security implications.”

The report did not elaborate, and the Senate panel to whom Clapper testified about the report did not ask him to.

STAT reported last year that experts were raising biosecurity concerns about the genome-editing technology CRISPR. The FBI, the Pentagon, and the United Nations bioweapons office are all monitoring or studying one of the most powerful uses of CRISPR, called “gene drive,” because of fears that it could be a tool of mass destruction in the hands of bioterrorists.

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