Do we have a moral obligation as a society to ensure that genetic engineering is pursued, or should we do everything possible to ensure that we do not open this Pandora’s Box?

Genetic engineering, the artificial manipulation, modification, and recombination of DNA or other nucleic acid molecules in order to modify an organism or population of organisms (Britannica, 2017). In simple terms, changing an organism or population of organisms to your own choice. This is something that is done all over the world. It started with simple organisms such as plants then proceeded to animals and now we find it happening amongst the human population.

Today, we find ourselves asking a very important question. Do we let society pursue in genetic engineering and bear the consequences that follow or do we do everything possible to ensure that it does not go on any further and this Pandora’s Box remains closed? Everyone has their own opinion to this question, personally I don’t know what my answer would be. There are too many pros and cons to be weighed out to allow me to come to a definite conclusion. Right now if I had to answer this question I would probably say let the closed box remain closed, why bring about change that isn’t necessary?

The human body is not perfect, we have many faults and to some people this is something that they cannot accept and it leads them to a mid-life crisis. Science has the potential to, in somewhat way perfect our body and eliminate the faults that we do not approve of. This is simply by manipulating our genes in such a way as to make our bodies better. Currently there are two types of gene therapy: germline therapy (currently illegal in many countries) and somatic cell therapy (permitted but limited success rate) (Arnold, 2012).

With genetic engineering we can make disease a thing of the past. We can replace the dud genes with correctly functioning genes which will result in the elimination of many diseases. With the elimination of many diseases we can expect a great increase in life span. Not only will the life span of those with diseases be increased but also healthy people are given the chance of living a longer life through genetic modifications. A prime advantage of genetic modification would be the result of better pharmaceuticals allowing products to target specifically genetic mutations in each individual (Arnold, 2012).

An article written by (Williams, 2014), explains a study where more than 11 000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins were analysed in terms of 83 different traits. Researchers collected data on how well each individual scored on the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam and found nine general groups of traits that were all highly hereditary—the identical twins were more likely to share the traits than non-identical twins—and also correlated with performance on the GCSE. Not only were traits other than intelligence correlated with GCSE scores, but these other traits also explained more than half of the total genetic basis for the test scores. At the end of the study it was found that academic achievement is influenced by genes affecting motivation, personality, confidence, and dozens of other traits, in addition to those that shape intelligence.

There are so many advantages but along with this there are many disadvantages as well. These need to be taken into consideration. There are a few risks associated with opening this box and exposing it to the world. These risks include the fact that some genes are carried in on viral vectors and these bugs have been altered so as not to infect a patient with a disease. However, a small number of gene therapy trials have resulted in the deaths of some subjects. How can this be ethical? How can we let this happen? Yes, there is a good chance of the trails being positive but at the same time there is a chance of a negative effect. Altering a gene could result in the death of a patient if the trail doesn’t work. Not every human is the same as the other and if a trail works for one, that doesn’t mean it would work for someone else. If all humans were to undergo this modification, wouldn’t this limit our genetic diversity? We could limit our gene pool and the population could be more susceptible to being wiped out by an unknown disease threat (Arnold, 2012).

The important question with genetic modification is that is this ethical? Altering with what we believe as “God’s creation”, is it right? Where does genetic modification stand against religion, spirituality and belief system? These are questions that we can’t give a definite answer to. For many people genetic modification would be ethical and for many it would not be. We all have our own say when it comes to this topic. Personally I believe strongly in not continuing to open this mystery Pandora box. Religion means a lot to me, I believe that God created this world and we are to maintain the beauty he has created. We have no right to alter the wonderful creation of God. Having a strong belief system does not allow me to be okay with genetic modification. We all are to leave this world at some time or the other. Be it earlier or later doesn’t matter. We are given this life by God and we have no right to alter it to please our own satisfaction.

Let this Pandora box remain close, it isn’t going to bring any good in the future run. It will only bring about a down slope with it. People will misuse this technique and it will result in a global crisis. We have enough going on in this world, its better if we prevent more trouble. No matter how helpful and positive outcomes this technique will have it is better to let it remain enclosed.

References

Arnold, P. (2012, February 28). Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans. Retrieved from Bright Hub: http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/22210.aspx

Britannica, T. E. (2017, March 20). Genetic Engineering. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/science/genetic-engineering

Williams, S. (2014, October 6). Genes don’t just influence your IQ – they determine how well you do in school. Retrieved from Science Magazine: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/10/genes-dont-just-influence-your-iq-they-determine-how-well-you-do-school

 

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