Norris: Are We Just One Gain-Of-Function Tweak Away From A Black Plague?

The world is about to pass another historical anniversary this week that I believe can also serve as a red flag and dire warning for the modern human race.

According to scholars at the University of Paris, the Black Death, also known as The Plague, was created on March 20, 1345. It was caused and spread by the yersinia pestis bacterium. The bubonic plague pandemic swept across Europe, the Middle East and Asia from 1346-1353.

The Black Death killed 30 to 60% of Europe’s population, including 50% of London’s residents. In a world of roughly 400 million people at the time, that was a gargantuan number of victims.

History.com explained, “The plague was carried by fleas that usually traveled on rats, but jumped off to other mammals when the rat died. It most likely first appeared in humans in Mongolia around 1320 – although recent research suggests it may have existed thousands of years earlier in Europe. Usually, people who came down with the plague first complained of headaches, fever and chills. Their tongues often appeared a whitish color before there was severe swelling of the lymph nodes. Finally, black and purple spots appeared on the skin of the afflicted; death could follow within a week. Later, a pneumonic form of the plague developed that was less common but killed 95 percent of the people who contracted it.”

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

But today, some would say, “Things are so much different and better than back then. We have newer technologies and advancements to protect us from that ever happening again.”

Is that right? Or have our modern technologies and biological advancements enabled the likelihood that we could more easily and speedily usher in a greater caliber of pestilence or death than ever before?

The world has morphed from one that ran from disease and bacteria to one that genetically slices, dices and alters them, at least in laboratories. Under the name of gain-of-function research, scientists now routinely edit genes and organisms to enhance (or diminish!) their biological functions of gene products, often with a goal to increase transmissibility, immunogenicity, virulence and/or host tropism.

Is it dangerous? It can be deadly, especially if it (intentionally or unintentionally) unleashes a biological warfare on humanity. Or even worse, if such technology falls into the wrong hands.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna is a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and a professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology at the University of California Berkeley. Her research expertise is in RNA machines, RNA interference, ribosomes, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing.

Q: What is “CRISPR”? As the Broad Institute explained, “A: ‘CRISPR’ (pronounced ‘crisper’) stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the hallmark of a bacterial defense system that forms the basis for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology.”

To put its purpose simply, with it “researchers can permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome in order to treat genetic causes of disease.” (Italics mine)

“Correct mutations” sounds so promising, doesn’t it? Think again.

While the world was consumed with COVID anxiety, a revealing exposé came out in a 2021 Scientific American (SA) article, “The Dark Side of CRISPR,” written by Dr. Sandy Sufian, an associate professor of health humanities and history in the Department of Medical Education at UIC School of Medicine and associate professor of Disability Studies in the UIC Department of Disability and Human Development.

Dr. Sufian’s article revealed how CRISPR’s potential ability to “fix” people at the genetic level is actually “a threat to those who are judged by society to be biologically inferior.”

The SA article explained how “[Dr. Jennifer] Doudna herself [the Berkeley geneticist mentioned above] has recognized that CRISPR carries with it ‘great risk.’ In a New York Times interview on October 22, 2020, she warned of the unknown consequences of embryo editing, cautioning researchers to wait to use CRISPR for these ends.”

Again, Dr. Sufian emphasized, “CRISPR’s tantalizing offer to achieve the supposedly ‘best’ kind of people at the genetic level is an uneasy alert to those who are often judged to be biologically inferior. …”

And who are the “biologically inferior”?

They could easily become “among the 1 billion people in the world (15% of the population) and 61 million people in the United States (26% of all adults) who are considered disabled … the 10% of all adults who have a genetic condition.”

Sufian’s SA article concluded, “Genome editing is a powerful, scientific technology that can reshape medical treatments and people’s lives, but it can also harmfully reduce human diversity and increase social inequality by editing out the kinds of people that medical science, and the society it has shaped, categorize as diseased or genetically contaminated – people like us who are understood as having bad genes. But we should be reminded that bad genes don’t necessarily lead to bad lives, just as good genes don’t necessarily lead to good lives. If CRISPR is put to use to eliminate rather than to treat genetic difference, we as a society would essentially instrumentalize this moralistic and reductionist assumption.”

That is why Dr. Doudna warned a Stanford University crowd in a lecture on ethics and biological frontier: “You don’t have to have money, or a lot of connections; you don’t have to know who knows somebody … to get a hold of [this technology].”

Reported the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society: “But that accessibility has also made many people concerned about the developments in gene editing. In response to a question about the possibility of rogue states like North Korea obtaining and utilizing the technology to create genetically edited babies, Doudna emphasized the importance of working with regulatory agencies in an international effort to create regulations and control for dangers.”

To this end, the editing of human embryos in Hong Kong “was sort of a wake-up call,” Doudna said. That CRISPR bombshell blew a few years ago when a Chinese researcher claimed to have created gene-edited twins and was imprisoned for it.

If all of this sounds eerily familiar to a time in the past when Nazis were attempting to create a “superior race,” you are closer to cracking the case than you know. In fact, that is the very dream (or nightmare) that Dr. Doudna literally had one night.

Here is the recollection of her dream in her own words:

“I had a dream recently, and in my dream” – she mentioned the name of a leading scientific researcher – “had come to see me and said, ‘I have somebody very powerful with me who I want you to meet, and I want you to explain to him how this technology functions.’ So I said, Sure, who is it? It was Adolf Hitler. I was really horrified, but I went into a room and there was Hitler. He had a pig face and I could only see him from behind and he was taking notes and he said, ‘I want to understand the uses and implications of this amazing technology.’ I woke up in a cold sweat. And that dream has haunted me from that day. Because suppose somebody like Hitler had access to this – we can only imagine the kind of horrible uses he could put it to.”

Could the “next Hitler” be out there and already be interested in human modification?

It’s one thing to do gene editing on tomatoes or corn, but quite another on adults, children and human embryos.

As the U.S. House of Representatives again pursues the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the likelihood that the virus was unleashed on the world through a lab leak in Wuhan China, we’ve got to ask: for any good that might come from the science of genetic engineering, isn’t it actually one of the greatest threats to mankind? Are we just one Wuhan leak or gain-of-function tweak away from another Black Plague or something worse?

I’m eerily reminded again of the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse in the book of Revelation: “When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”

(For further reading on this, I recommend a book that was awarded “A Best Book of 2021” by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Time and The Washington Post: Walter Isaacson’s “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.”)

Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@wndnewscenter.org.


This article was originally published by the WND News Center.


Turn your back on Big Tech oligarchs and join the New Resistance NOW!  Facebook, Google, and other members of the Silicon Valley Axis of Evil are now doing everything they can to deliberately silence conservative content online, so please be sure to check out our MeWe page here, check us out at ProAmerica Only and follow us at Parler, SocialCrossSpeak Your Mind Here, and Gab.  You can also follow us on Truth Social here, Twitter at @co_firing_line, and at the social media site set up by members of Team Trump, GETTR.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out our friends at Whatfinger News, the Internet’s conservative front-page founded by ex-military!And be sure to check out our friends at Trending Views:Trending Views

Related Articles

Our Privacy Policy has been updated to support the latest regulations.Click to learn more.×