SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The practice of “editing” genes has been taking place for a long time. Think of selective breeding of food and plants to make them more productive or animals to give them characteristics and traits that we want. But a technology called CRISPR has made that process easier than ever. So what does that mean for us as individuals and as a society?

Two guests joined ABC4’s Emily Florez on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion about this topic. The first guest was James Tabery, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Utah whose focus has been on the ethnics of modern-day implementation of genetics. The second guest was Dana Carroll, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine and one of the founding fathers of genome editing.

In part one, the panel discussed how gene editing works, how breeding was a starting point for this type of science, what CRISPR has done in this field, the difference between somatic and germline treatments, and the different levels of complexity of treatment.

In part two, the panel talked about how close scientists are to treating sickle cell, whether height and muscle could be “turned on” by CRISPR technology, whether it could boost more complex things like intelligence, when germline editing should be done, and whether changing the embryo is actually eugenics.

In Part 3, the guests addressed economic justice and designer babies, the diversity in humans from a genetic standpoint, and the ethics of China using CRISPR to make a human resistant to HIV.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Tabery and Carroll, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.