According to a head of US intelligence, China is developing an army of genetically engineered “super soldiers” of the kind we’ve only seen in science fiction so far.
John Ratcliffe, Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence, claimed that China would stop at nothing to dominate the US and the rest of the planet “economically, militarily and technologically,” and was already testing super-soldier technology.
One of the ways the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is trying to gain a military advantage over its rivals, he says, is by using the gene editing tool CRISPR to modify human embryos to breed military personnel that is able to fight harder and longer. , and more efficiently.
In saying that the PRC poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II, Ratcliffe wrote in the Wall Street Journal there were “no ethical limits to Beijing’s pursuit of power”.
There is widespread debate about the ethics of using tools such as CRISPR to improve the human genome.
Chinese biologist He Jiankui sparked controversy when he modified the genes of twin embryos used for IVF, resulting in the birth of two girls who he claimed have natural immunity to HIV.
He was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 3 million Yuan (£ 345,000) for “illegal medical practices,” but Ratcliffe believes the Chinese military is still secretly conducting similar investigations.
Two US defense specialists specializing in the study of Chinese military research wrote in a paper last year that the use of CRISPR to improve performance on the battlefield was just a hypothetical possibility today, “There is evidence that Chinese military researchers have discovered its potential. start exploring. “
Major General He Fuchu, the former president of the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the current vice president of the Academy of Military Sciences, is just one great Chinese military figure who is denouncing the potential of future super soldiers.
He said in 2017 that “Modern biotechnology and its integration with information, nano (technology) and cognitive, etc. domains will have revolutionary influences on weapons and equipment, the combat spaces, the forms of warfare and military theories”
The US is also working to create its own “Captain America,” with the United States Special Operations Command announcing in 2018 that it had raised about $ 15 million to research the creation of “bio-enhanced” super soldiers.
The goal would be to bring a new breed of soldiers to the battlefield that had “improved physiological performance” and needed little or no sleep in addition to other “human performance optimizations,” according to US Department of Defense documents.
Wilson VornDick warned that there were real dangers to anyone engaged in such research. He told NBC News, “If we start playing with genetic organisms, there could be unforeseen consequences.”