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Podcast with Michael Specter on rewriting the code of life

“How can you not be excited about the possibility of getting rid of the worst scourges of humanity?”

In a  remarkable podcast on National Public Radio, Michael Specter is interviewed about his recent article in the New Yorker, Rewriting the Code of LifeHis discussion of the gene editing tool CRISPR and gene drives is a brilliant piece of science communication that touches on the enormous potential of these new techniques.

Could malaria, dengue, Lyme and other diseases be eliminated? It now  seems possible, and is surely worth pursuing, along with attendant precautions in working on life altering technologies. And what if these technologies could be used to enable pig organs to be used for transplants to humans in less than a decade from now? Or for enabling our own cells to specifically target cancer tumors?

malaria-from-nat-geo

Mother and child with malaria, Niger. National Geographic Photo Gallery: Malaria

Specter’s 2009 book Denialism: how irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet and threatens our lives explains the current fear of science, vaccines and the organic fetish (his TED talk on this is also quite good). His articles on modern science in the New Yorker are classics, and his book in progress on these new genetic techniques should be just as good.

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