Visualize a world where anyone can do anything, regardless of age or physical conditions. Nobody would age nor develop any illnesses or disorders. Essentially, this would be a society in which everyone is perfect. Such a thought would be the result of genetic engineering, which is the modification of an organism’s genome using biotechnology. Scientists alter the genetic makeup of an organism by using techniques that remove inherited material or inject DNA from outside the organism either directly into the host or into a cell that is then crossbred with the host (Clapper, 2013). The goal of genetically modifying organisms is to fix imperfections and improve their capabilities. In humans, genes that cause diseases and disorders can be identified and defenses can be put up to fight them. After hours of research and weeks of studying on the topic, I have reached a conclusion that humans should be able to be genetically engineered, but there needs to be a limit to how much they are modified. Some benefits of this include the absence of diseases, the ability for parents to choose the physical traits for their child, and increased human capabilities.
One major benefit of the genetic engineering of humans is the termination of physical disorders. Life without diseases would mean that everyone, no matter the age, would be healthy and capable of doing whatever they please. The Human Genome Project is currently working on identifying all the genes in the human body and their purposes (Hanna, 2006). They will then be able to work on preventing diseases by removing or replacing the defective gene in a process known as gene therapy. In the movie GATTACA, Vincent, who was born without the aid of genetic selection, was tested to show that he had a high probability of developing mental disorders as well as a heart defect (GATTACA, 1997). However, the second son Anton, who was genetically modified, is perfectly healthy and is predicted to live forever. This shows that genetic engineering can indeed alter or even fully eliminate disorders or negative conditions.
For example, scientists using gene therapy were able to cure twenty two children with severe combined immunodeficiency, providing the first strong piece of evidence that this process was effective (Campbell, Reece, and Simon, 2007). In addition, another way in which genetic engineering could be a benefit is that parents would be able to choose how they want their child to turn out. According to the article Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans, parents could alter their baby’s appearance however they want to (Bird, 2011). Genetic engineering can also be used to eliminate superficial traits parents may perceive as flaws, such as oversized ears for example. In GATTACA, the parents chose to use genetic selection to conceive their second child Anton (GATTACA, 1997). Julian Savulescu, a philosopher and bioethicist, believes that genetically engineering will soon have developed to affect an individual’s personality instead of just their physical appearance (Alleyne, 2012).
He argues that, “rational design would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.” This means that future genetically modified children could not only be physically attractive but also better people in general, capable of making smarter decisions. Last but not least, genetic engineering could provide us with better capabilities. Humans could be modified to have superhuman strength and immeasurable intellect. Animals can be modified have human traits, so humans should theoretically also be able to be engineered with physical characteristics from different species. A National Human Genome Research Institute team reported a mutation in a gene that codes for a muscle protein known as myostatin which can increase muscle mass and enhance racing performance in a breed of dogs (Sato, 2009).
Scientists wonder if human athletes could benefit from having a gene or two artificially mutated to give them a little extra strength and speed. GATTACA also shows how genetic engineering affected the bodies of the main characters. Anton was genetically altered to be far superior physically and mentally compared to his older brother Vincent (GATTACA, 1997). Based on the fact that the Department of Science and Technology states that crops will be able to grow on unfertile land and for newer functions, it is suggested that humans too can be genetically modified to perform higher level tasks (Haut, 2014). In every argument, there exists cons to balance out with the pros. People argue that having genetically engineered humans would decrease diversity. The world revolves around the differences between individuals and their evolutionary process that occurs at some point. As mentioned early on, there should be limits placed on the modification.
The physical traits of a person should be enhanced so that he/she can take upon newer and better functions, but the emotional character within them should be left untouched. Because each individual would still have their own personal thoughts, feelings, and opinions, genetic diversity would remain unchanged. In addition, genetically engineering humans would not necessarily be changing the process of evolution. Simply put, the progression would essentially be sped up to a point where it is easier for a species to develop their skills and abilities if they have been established early in their lives.
Although there are some downsides to genetic engineering on humans, I believe that it is a necessary step that should be taken in the future. If our theories prove to be successful in experiments, we will be able to cure and possibly eradicate diseases. Parents would be satisfied with their child, knowing that they turned out exactly as pictured. And finally, people would have enhanced capabilities, allowing them to do much more with their physical fitness and knowledge. With proper research and experiments, we will be able to develop a stronger and highly-advanced species with limitless power and endless possibilities.
Hanna, K. (2006). Genetic Enhancement. Retrieved from http://www.genome.gov/10004767 Campbell, N., J. Reece, and E. Simon (2007). Treating Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. In Essentials of Biology with Physiology, 2nd ed., pp. 235. San Francisco. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. Bird, M. (2011). Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans. Retrieved from http://www.sciences360.com/index.php/pros-and-cons-of-genetic-engineering-in-humans-6890/ Sato, R. (2009). Are We Close to Creating Super-humans? Retrieved from http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/01/are-we-close-to.html Haut, J. (2014). Biotechnology: Genetic Modification of Crops Handout. Clapper, R. (2013). Human Genetic Engineering: A Very Brief Intro. Retrieved from http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112819269/human-genetic-engineering-a-very-brief-introduction/ Alleyne, R. (2012). Genetically Engineering “Ethical”