|Date published:||19 Sep 2018|
It is no doubt that human anatomy is a very intriguing and complex matter. The human body is composed of a wide variety of genes that possess certain traits. It is these genes that determine the make-up of a person’s body, as they play a big role in determining the traits and attributes of a person. When the gene is corrupted in an embryo it could possibly lead to the birth of a baby with genetic complications, deformities and diseases and it is for this reason that some scientist consider altering the genetic make-up of the embryo in order to eliminate those defects. Then this came with the possibility is even improving those genes so that future generations will only have the desirable qualities. As exciting as this sounds it raised a lot of credible concerns in the society that cannot be ignored as to why we should not take this route. The following paper will look at the reasons as to why we should not alter the genetic make-up of embryo.
There are many critics of using gene engineering to alter the genetic make-up is unborn children and they have their reasons for disputing this advancement. As at now there are is not enough studies on the matter as it is a very complex subject with a lot of uncertainties involved. Even if done by the most qualified doctors it is still a very risky affair. If proper care is not taken it could lead to the termination of the human embryo. This possibility became evident in April when a group of Chinese scientist gave a report of an attempted alteration of a gene associated with a possible fatal blood disorder in the cells of human embryo which where non-viable ofcorse. The experiment was largely unsuccessful as a majority of the embryos were terminated during the process or the gene they intended to be altered was not modified. (Rathi)
Another obstacle to pursuing this line of thought was that in the process of altering the genes in an embryo they may introduce alleles with unforeseen side effects that may not only affect the edited gene but the entire resulting generations of the edited embryo. In the experiment performed by the Chinese scientists the embryos that were successfully altered ended up with DNA damage in their cells. The process of gene alteration will focus on the viral vector which is known for carrying the functional gene in the human body. Considering they do not know where the functional genes are specifically situated they may end up substituting the functional genes instead of the mutated genes which could lead to other health conditions or diseases.
There is also another factor to put in to consideration. One of the most unique qualities admirable among the humans is their diversity. The fact that one person is different from every other person makes them unique as they are one of a kind. Gene alteration threatens this fact, as the population will now be able to possess similar genomes, and thus will have similar traits. One might think that this is a good thing, but it is not. As the defective genes will be replaced with functional genes which will result in the loss of gene diversity. The real danger comes in when now we have a population that is susceptible to virus or diseases, and if exposes could lead to human extinction.
Another uncertainty associated with gene alteration is that since it is generally an untouched field, it is unknown as to whether the ‘improved babies’ will have an effect on the genotype. Consequently, it would have adverse effects more so to future generations of the modified baby. In addition, the genetically engineered species could present an ecological problem. As at now it is impossible to foresee the changes that the new species would have on the environment. There is however a possibility that the new species will cause disturbance in the natural balance of the ecosystem. Errors in this engineering process could led to the creation of problems ranging from minor medical problems to death.
Knowing the human race as evidenced with history most parents will want to exploit this technology for superficial intentions. They may employ gene alteration to seek out desirable qualities in their offspring such as blonde haired babies, and determining the eye color of their children. Since the baby at this stage of life cannot oppose or consent to the alteration of their body and will forever have to live with the decisions made by their parents it would not be fare. Since parents do not own the children they should not be given such power in making such decisions. (“Gene Editing – Pros and Cons”)
Having a portion of the population with altered genes and another group without altered gene will create division. The fact that babies will probably be more physically dominant could lead to different classes in society which will continue to create further divisions in the society. Given that the society is already divided on matters such as race, tribe and so on, you will be adding another measure in which humans will be differentiated, designer and non-designer babies. This tension will be heightened when employers start considering this factor during employment as they will most likely preferred the modified class as they will generally be smatter as opposed to their un-modified competition. The procedure of gene alteration will ofcorse be very expensive and as a result it will not be available for everybody. Those families who will not be able to afford such a procedure will end up losing very many opportunities, e.g. jobs as it is expected that the best candidate will be selected (Skerret).
Gene modification is a complex matter, and human evolution for very long period of time has naturally aimed at naturally perfecting the human species, so it is not practical to think that a group of scientist will be able to crack this nut shell in a few trys. Genes as complex as they are mostly have more than one use. A good example is that of the gene that controls intelligence also controls anger management. As parents will generally wish to have more intelligent offspring they will attempt to alter this trait. Even if the process is successful and they end up having a more intelligent baby they may end up tampering with the anger management trait and thus have a baby who is very intelligent and at the same time always very angry which can be dangerous. This is only one possibility as they are several scenarios that can prove to be very disastrous. Considering that people are not perfect and so the geneticists cannot fully correctly evaluate all the genes in the human body it is almost certain that errors will be made in the process (“7 Advantages and Disadvantages Of Genetic Engineering”).
As this field has very many posing to its applications there are also very many ethical and social concerns that have risen up. One of those concerns is that the results of such experiments will have permanent effects and one done there will be no way of reversing the process. We thus have to deal with the consequences of that decision. The aims of a medical research are always to balance the benefits and the risks, with the concerned parties having all the necessary information concerning it giving a fully informed approval (“THE PROS AND CONS OF “DESIGNER BABIES””).
An example of the multiple approaches which this technology could be applied in is when the human genes are used in non-human organisms which as a result will be partly human. The ethical question arises when trying to deduce the proportion of the genetics an individual organism needs to have before it is considered a full typical human being. AN example is where they are using genetically modified mice to produce human sperm, what effects will this have to the offspring who result from sperms produced by mice (Patra).
Ofcorse there are very many benefits that can result from gene mutation. Some of these benefits could include reducing the vulnerability of diseases and mortality. As promising as this may seem at this stage in time may prove to be dangerous as the process is still in its experimental stages and a lot is still unknown.