Genetic Engineering In Humans What Is It Capable Of
Human genetic engineering is one of the most controversial aspects of a science, which is itself highly controversial, and it is still very much in its infancy. There have been a few isolated cases where an illness has been successfully cured by the use of genetic therapy, but there have also been other cases where patients have contracted diseases such as leukemia through experimentation with this type of therapy. At this stage it is impossible to say exactly what the future will hold, or exactly what the consequences of these developments will be.
So far, the only successes which the method has are in treating conditions relating to the human immune system. This is an obvious application of the technology, as the condition is caused purely by genetic factors. By replacing a gene which gives the patient a proclivity towards the disease with a healthy one a cure can be effected. This is more than just theory, as the numbers of cases where this has been successfully carried out is now into double figures, and is constantly increasing. The challenge lies in overcoming the potentially catastrophic side effects which can occur if the treatment does not work.
One of the most controversial of all applications of this technology is in allowing infertile mothers to conceive. This is done by using the eggs from a different mother, leaving the child with the genetic blueprint inherited from three people. This will then be passed on through future generations, leading to untold potential complications. It is still far too early to judge the potential consequences of the use of this type of genetic technology, but if there are any negative side effects they are likely to be far reaching and extremely damaging.
There have been many arguments put forward concerning human genetic engineering, some strongly in favor and some equally strongly against. The potential is there for diseases caused by genetics to be eliminated completely, and this is there area in which fewest dissenting voices will be heard. The use of genetics purely to overcome fertility is far more controversial, especially when you consider the permanent effect that this has on all future generations of that family. There are also many dissenters against the possibility of parents deciding features of their children using an advanced form of this technology, which cannot be used yet but which may be perfectly possible in the future.
If this technology is left unchecked it will definitely have far reaching consequences. There is no doubt that wealthy families would take advantage of such technology to try to give their children every advantage in their future life, and there could be several possible outcomes of this. One would be a rise in productivity and creativity which would penetrate through society, raising the standard of society for everyone and creating more opportunities. It is also possible that poor families who could not afford this technology would be left even further adrift, leading to sharp increases in crime rates, social disorder, and economic chaos.
Even though strong opinions are held on both sides of the argument, the truth is that it is far too early to know for sure exactly what is involved with human genetic engineering. There are some philosophical and moral arguments which will prove exceedingly difficult to resolve one way or another, but there are potential consequences which cannot possibly be known until more research has been carried out. The arguments over this technology are certain to rage for a great many years to come, and it is unlikely there will ever be universal agreement on human genetic engineering.
|Comparing Genome Editing Technologies - Genetic Engineering News|
Brain scan - The Economist
Babies With 3 Genetic Parents: Good Idea or Just Wrong? - Medscape
Glowing Plants: Crowdsourced Genetic Engineering Project Ignites Controversy
Biohackers who promised to distribute genetically modified bioluminescent plants without regulatory testing defend their work -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com..
Genetic Engineering Pushback Against GMO Foods
Demand for food free of genetically modified organisms is growing fast and nowhere stronger than in British Columbia...
Thrillers reviewed - Chicago Tribune (blog)
The American Chestnut's Genetic Rebirth
A foreign fungus nearly wiped out North America's once vast chestnut forests. Genetic engineering can revive them -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com..