In an article found on National Public Radio website, Rob Stein reported the advancement of science in the genetic field following plans by Fredrick Lanner, a developmental scientist, to carry out genetic modification of a healthy human embryo. The article points out how genetic modification in human embryos will be carried out by Lanner and the possible impacts on human health. In the article, the author highlighted both the potential benefits and the drawbacks but pointed out that the potential detrimental effects outweigh the desired benefits. Among the potential benefits stated is that scientists’ knowledge of the genetic regulation of embryonic development could be potentially beneficial in the treatment of both infertility and miscarriages. Secondly, the author pointed out that through this scientist will be able to get to know more about embryonic stem cells thus enabling them to treat many diseases. Lastly, knowledge of embryonic cells “will help us in the future to treat patients with diabetes” (‘Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks to Edit DNA of Healthy Human Embryos,' n.d.) and other diseases.
I disagree with Lanner’s scientific experimentation on human embryos. If he is given a go ahead to carry out such an experiment on human embryos, it will open floodgates for more scientific experimentation on the same. The proliferation of these experiments, especially if unregulated, has the potential of creating thousands of babies with defective human genes. The result is a catastrophe; development of new genetic diseases capable of being transferred from one generation to another. Consequently, we may end up having millions of people with genetic diseases. Such novel diseases may prove difficult to treat and thus threaten our human existence. Therefore, allowing such experiments to thrive is like advancing our own extinction.
Genetic modification of the embryo involves alteration of every single gene found in the bodies of the new offspring. Consequently, there will be a change in the genetic makeup of the future generation of such human beings. So, if a genetic error occurs in the process, it will be totally irreversible for generations to come. If the genetic error is disadvantageous to the new individuals and end up producing undesirable traits, the chances of survival of these people are significantly reduced.
Thirdly, allowing such ‘inhuman’ experimentation has moral and ethical implications. For instance, if we, the parents, are allowed to choose the traits that we desire in children, we shall end up creating a scientifically-made new human species. The traits of such new species may deviate from what is usually seen as “human.” The new physical, behavioral, and cognitive traits may be detrimental to our survival as ‘normal’ human beings as they will be considered biologically superior. Another ethical concern is that the “freezing and thawing process” involved in the artificial growing of the embryo may lead to its death. To me, this is akin to killing a potential human being.
Lastly, I believe that permitting these experiments may lead to social stratification. We shall end up creating “a world of genetic haves and have-nots.” The ‘haves’ or those with money to produce babies with the qualities they desire will have their babies more superior e.g. intellectually and physically while those without financial muscle end up having normal children with ‘normal’ traits. As a result, children from poor backgrounds will not be able to compete fairly in academic and work-related fields with those ‘genetically modified.'
Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos. (n.d.). Retrieved 24 October 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/22/494591738/breaking-taboo-swedish-scientist-seeks-to-edit-dna-of-healthy-human-embryos
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