Book Review: Programming Evolution: A Crack in Science

Giuseppe Longo reviews the book “A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to
Control Evolution” by Nobel Prize winner, Jennifer Doudna, and Samuel Sternberg

Abstract: Nobel Prize winner, Jennifer Doudna, and Samuel Sternberg survey recent advances in a
pioneering area of molecular biology. In an accessible and elegant style, the authors present the
successes and challenges of a new DNA-modifying technique: CRISPR. They transmit their
emotions of discovery, passion for research, and intellectual audacity. While greatly admiring the
technical skills of the authors, who are among the best researchers in the field, this review critically
stresses the limits of their experimental practices, namely: a vague or incomplete theoretical frame;
often unreachable genetic targets; off-target effects; prior failures to deliver by other forms of
genetic manipulation, and, finally, the intrinsic unpredictability of many phenotypic consequences
of such a powerful technique. Due to these concerns, the authors’ approach to organisms and
Evolution is questioned with the purpose to generate an open debate.

Keywords: CRISPR, gene-editing, genocentrism, off-target effects, Evolution, theory of organisms.

Read the full book review here: