CRISPR gene editing: environmentally friendly? Oct. 10

CRISPR panel discussion poster Oct. 10The School of Global Environmental Sustainability is hosting a panel discussion Oct. 10 on CRISPR, a technology that could lead to the next generation of genetically engineered products. The event will run from 5 – 6:30 pm at Avogadro’s Number.

Known for its simplicity and ease of use, CRISPR — which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats — promises to provide an accurate and cheap means of transforming agriculture to meet the growing food demands of the future. CRISPR is a genome editing technique that is used in a wide variety of fields and is currently most prevalent in bio-agriculture.

Unlike the current understanding around genetically modified organisms, which inserts foreign genes into DNA sequences, CRISPR technology cuts out genes and splices in new ones with the purpose of treating for genetic diseases. This editing of an organism’s natural genome comes with questions regarding the security, safety and ethical risks to the environmental system.

Will this technology be critical for making crops and other ecosystems better equipped to handle heat, drought, and disease, or will it pave a path toward “designer babies” and “gene drives”?

Panelists, who will weigh the costs and benefits of CRISPR by discussing genetically engineered products within the context of human and environmental health, include:

•   Assistant Professor Stephen Pearce, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences
•   Associate Professor Graham Peers, Department of Biology
•   Professor Carol Wilusz, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology

The discussion will be moderated by Gene Kelly, faculty research liaison at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, deputy director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean of Extension.

The panel discussion, part of a Managing the Planet series, is free of charge and open to the public. Visit for more information about the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

Avogadro’s Number is located at 605 S. Mason Street in Fort Collins.