The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
Daniel M. Gerstein works at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. He was formerly the under secretary (acting) and deputy under secretary in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security from 2011 to 2014. He is also an adjunct professor at American University, where he teaches courses on bioterrorism, technology policy and national security, and the evolution of military thought. He has published numerous books and articles on national security topics like bioterrorism, the misuse of biotechnology, and the Biological Weapons Convention, including National Security and Arms Control in the Age of Biotechnology: The Biological Weapons Convention (2013).
When it comes to preparedness and response capabilities in the face of a large-scale biological incident, whether natural or human-made, American planning remains a work in progress. Recent legislation has called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy.
Members of the Biological Weapons Convention will probably not change the treaty to accommodate for advances in genetic editing. But there is still plenty they can do to make sure Crispr and other new biotechnologies are used safely and peacefully.
Genetic editing techniques like Crispr have made it possible to rapidly and irreversibly alter plants, animals, and even humans, posing a range of threats from accidental releases to biological attacks.