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Cut + Paste online exhibition

This online exhibition includes the same content as Cut + Paste, an in-person exhibition at the Crick that explored the ethics of genome editing.

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Who are you?

It's a simple question with a complicated answer.

Inside almost every cell in your body, there is a unique set of instructions called your genome, which is made of DNA.

New genome editing tools are changing how science is done at places like the Crick, allowing scientists to alter DNA more quickly, more easily and more accurately.

Genome editing technologies hold extraordinary potential to improve human health and the world around us. But these new tools bring all sorts of important ethical concerns along with them.

Which diseases should we try to cure? What is the difference between treating (or avoiding) a genetic condition, and enhancement? How much about ourselves should we change?

How should we use these tools, how should they be regulated, and who should decide?

In Cut + Paste, you're invited to think about these questions, ask your own, and have your say.

What is genome editing?

part one

What is genome editing?

The average human being is made of more than 30 trillion cells. These form your skin, bones, brain, and every other bit of your body. And in almost all of your cells there is a copy of your unique instruction manual: your genome.

To understand how this manual can be edited by ‘cutting and pasting’, first it’s helpful to know how we are constructed…  


What will you pass on?

part two

What will you pass on?

We share all sorts of attributes with our families: some are understood to be the product of inherited genes, like hair type or eye shape. Other traits, like the ability to sing, are thought to be the product of interactions between genes and our environment, upbringing and life experiences.

Option 2

This is your chance to think about your traits, tastes and talents.

What have you inherited? What would you hope to pass on?

  • Sometimes what we inherit includes a genetic variant or condition that we may not wish to pass on.

  • Keep reading to explore how genome editing is being trialled, and could be used in the future, when this happens.

  • intro


    Where would you draw the line?

    part three

    Where would you draw the line?

    At times, life can feel like a game of chance. From the DNA we were born with, to all the twists and turns along the way that will affect who we are and how we live, so much is beyond our control.

    Genome editing offers us the possibility of changing the hand that nature - and other complex forces - may have dealt us. How might we use it to change ourselves and the world around us?  

    Genome editing can be used in many different ways - and new applications are being developed all the time. Click each card to find out more and have your say.

    What do you think?

    part four

    What do you think?

    Should genome editing be used in the fight against climate change? Should parents be able to alter the genomes of children yet to be born? Should genome editing be used to create new or ‘’improved” human abilities? How should these questions be decided?

    From use in scientific research to combating environmental crises, from treating diseases to human enhancement, we want to hear your views about the ethics of genome editing. More people should have a chance to feed into how these technologies are used in the future, and this is a space for you to be part of these conversations.

    What do you think?

    We invite you to send us your reflections and questions on the ethics of genome editing.

    Send them in using the form here, or share them with @TheCrick on Twitter or @thefranciscrickinstitute on Instagram with the hashtag #CutAndPaste. 

    Please note that some comments and questions may be shared (in typed text only) on the Crick website.

    See responses →