In recent years the government has banned funding for genetically modifying humans, but that hasn’t stopped scientists from pursuing their research with the funding from other places. There are several concerns about genetic engineering. Both moral arguments and those surrounding the fears of minimizing genetic variation and developing a monoculture that might be vulnerable to epidemics have been identified. The bioethical concern surrounding genetic modification raises awareness of scientists crossing the line from science for the good of eliminating disease, to the modification of humans developing something that isn’t even considered human anymore. The argument that minimizing genetic variation will lead to a species vulnerable to extinction from epidemics is supported by the study of agriculture. Neither is inevitable.The benefits of preventing diseases before people are born, requiring tampering with human DNA is worth it. Understanding more about this practice is important for not only congress, but the people. Like so many issues we know little about, gaining knowledge about this will make people more confident and ultimately able to make decisions that are best for the country.
In his paper, The Evolutionary Biological Implications of Human Genetic Engineering, Russell Powell, argues that genetic engineering has only a “negligible impact on human genetic diversity” and that it is “more likely to ensure rather than undermine the health and longevity of the human species”. Learning from experience with GMOs with crops, there are concerns about the lack of diversity in humans if genetic engineering is to be used. Although the paper argues that “the widespread use of GET (genetic engineering technology) is unlikely to reduce HGV (human genetic variability) and that even if it did, this would neither increase the human species’ susceptibility to disease nor prevent it from responding effectively to the shifting demands of selection,” This could be interpreted as the tampering of DNA not leading to the same issues as have occurred with GMOs with agriculture. Powell is convincing in his arguments that genetic engineering in humans is unlikely to cause major problems for the human race.
Modifying the genome of a baby in its mother’s womb is now possible with amazing new technology. Is this a way to eliminate terrible genetic diseases or a way to simply select desirable traits to breed into offspring? In this article, Redesigning nature: to be or not to be?, the authors argue that the practice of genetic engineering is “proving to be successful in fighting a host of genetic diseases, including cancer and has even made headway with HIV.” Since there is already success in this practice, the improved quality of life that results from fighting these diseases is evidence that this practice should be supported. For families with inherited diseases, this practice may be able to prevent suffering in future family members. This may also be a way to treat cancer in ways that we don’t yet know about. Scientists can even grow human organs in animals to transplant in humans. Genetic engineering provides a whole host of opportunities to treat human disease. The benefits for better health far outweighs the concern that adults may choose specific traits for their offspring – creating “designer babies”.
Even though this seems like a great idea, it’s also important that scientists should be careful and not take genetic engineering lightly. With careful consideration and appropriate regulations in place to prevent abusing the system, scientists will not be able to take this practice too far. There should always be variability in each person; this provides necessary protection of the human species. It should be recognized when genetic engineering or other technologies are appropriate to tamper with human DNA.