SACRAMENTO, CA – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a consumer protection bill authored by Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar). Senate Bill 180 requires sellers of gene therapy kits known as “DIY CRISPR Kits” to include a notice prior to the point of sale, as well as a label on the package, stating that CRISPR kits are not intended for self-administration. This proposals aims to prevent safety misfires in the citizen-scientist and biohacker movement to sell and use CRISPR kits outside the lab.
“As an advocate of STEM education, I’ve also been a proponent of making science a creative process for everyday people. But with the advancement of technology, there’s also the potential of misuse and unforeseen consequences. My legislation takes a proactive approach, rather than reactive. A simple label stating that these kits should not be self-administered can prevent serious health risks,” said Senator Chang. “While CRISPR may benefit educational institutions, I am very concerned about the amateur use of this innovative technology and its impact on consumer safety and public health.”
CRISPR, short for CRISPR-Cas9, is an acronym for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” which are unique DNA sequences found in some bacteria and other microorganisms. It is anticipated that the global market for this new gene editing technology will reach $8.1 billion by 2025.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has stated that the sale of gene therapy products with the intent of self-administration is against the law, and cites concerns about safety risks. There have been cases in which research teams have recreated extinct strains of viral diseases from scratch.