Biohackers Are Using Mail-Order CRISPR To Alter DNA


We want to grow as a species and maybe change as a species. Whether that is curing disease or immortality or mutant powers is up to you.
–Josiah Zayner, ODIN website

I suppose it was only a matter of time…enterprising biohackers are now using mail-order CRISPR kits to edit DNA. No need to stumble through the darknet to find the websites that sell these kits, either. The ODIN do-it-yourself CRISPR site is as easily accessible as typing in “mail-order CRISPR kit” into your search browser.

Ex-NASA scientist Josiah Zayner owns the ODIN site, which offers a range of gene-tampering possibilities from generating bioluminescent E. coli, to creating new antibiotics from just crap lying around your home, to a new project called the Open Human Plasmid (which Zayner promises will create “a new era of humans”).

sample kit, complete with fun decal

Last year I wrote about DIY cybernetic implants…and DIY CRISPR is just the “natural” next step. But will hundreds, maybe thousands of amateur (and, I would imagine, rogue “legit”) scientists cooking up DNA mods in their home-labs cause some problems down the line?

As of now, there is no government regulation on the selling of these kits, nor on experimentation…though releasing actual engineered organisms seem to be a big no-no. But let’s face it…somebody, somewhere, is going to release their works of art into the “wild” at some time. And it’s probably already happened.

the ODIN logo

So yeah, in that and other ways, this DIY CRISPR thing could be a problem.

But the other side of the coin is…and we trust “official” scientific think-tanks to be oh-so-much-more ethically responsible? Like all sorts of bioweapons and questionable gene-hacks aren’t being done in the name of possible military applications alone?

The genie, as with many of these things, is out of the bottle at this point. If you suppress dealers like ODIN, I would imagine it all would go to the darknet. And I also would imagine that on the darknet right now there are probably things far more extreme—and immediately dangerous—than ODIN.

Anyway…all hail the new flesh, and all that.