Eugenics: Making perfection or playing with nature

Eugenics is a controversial topic in many countries today. Many people still have the same ideas regarding the topic, that was embedded into society by Nazi scientists in the past. But the study of human genetic engineering has moved far from the ideologies of the crazed eugenicist’s of a bygone era.

In the past eugenics was largely controlled by the government of specific countries invested in it. It was used to create what leaders called the “desirable’s”, this was merely outward traits that was thought to be the most beautiful to some. It was also aimed at getting rid of the “undesirables”, which in Nazi Germany lead to many Jewish people being enslaved and killed in concentration camps. (Kevles, 2016)

But in recent years eugenics has developed into a much more plausible idea, not necessarily run by government organisations to eradicate certain races or traits but instead to be used as a tool to eradicate diseases and genetically modify humans to be healthy in every aspect.

If we as a species have the technology to eradicate diseases such as cystic fibrosis and cancer, are we not morally obligated to do so? Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common life shortening diseases that can be inherited from parents carrying the gene. The gene had been identified 25 years ago and since then scientists have been aiming at finding a plausible gene therapy to eradicate the disease (Boseley, 2015). Genetically modifying a fetus so that it is healthy and ensured of a good quality of life should no be frowned upon, it should be celebrated. We are approaching a time where scientists are able to negate nature and instead nurture the human species into perfect specimens devoid of any lethal diseases. Scientists in the USA have discovered a protein that aids in the growth of cancer cells, by removing this protein it showed that growth of cancer cells slowed down significantly (Batsakis, 2017). This may be the breakthrough in treatment that many have been praying for since cancer spread through the human species like wildfire.

In this way it is our obligation as humans to ensure that these breakthroughs come to the forefront and get used in everyday life. It may be the only way to ensure our survival as a species.

Many argue that eugenics can be used negatively, to allow for certain personality and appearance traits to come through in offspring. But then again, when a couple decide to have a child are they not allowed to decide which traits they would like said child to have or what personality traits come through? Are they not allowed to ensure that their offspring do not end up with social and anxiety disorders, or even to ensure that they have the best possible ways to absorb information and do well at school? “People pick their mates based more often on the traits they share rather than those that make them different” (Berezow, 2014). Parents in essence subconsciously choose their partners on attraction, to a certain extent that means they think their genetics will mix well together and form a beautiful baby between the two of them. How is that any different that choosing exactly which characteristics their child will be born with, being the mother’s curly blond hair or the father’s straight black hair.

If this scientific breakthrough will allow parents to ultimately choose all their genetic traits they would like in their offspring, would parents not possibly love their children more? It is not uncommon that love and adoration in parents are more so when their children accomplish certain things that they deem as “achievements worthy of praise”.

There is no denying that genetic engineering is fast becoming the go to science for redesigning the human species as we know it. Within the next 5-10 years the availability of this science will be at the forefront in treating many diseases but also in the adaptation of the human species to new and unrecognized threats that may arise. Parents will no longer be relying on nature to ensure that they have a baby that is healthy and poses the traits they need to succeed in life in the 21st century, but rather on a scientist that can ensure that said child will be devoid of any genetic diseases and poses the traits chosen by his/her parents. No longer will people suffer from mental diseases such as schizophrenia or cower in fear of developing bipolar disorder, because their parents had it.

This “pandora’s box” should be explored to all possibilities , and aimed at making the human species better in all aspects.

 

References:

Batsakis, A. (2017). CRISPR gene editing puts the brakes on cancer cells. https://cosmomagazine.com/biology/crispr-gene-editing-puts-the-breaks-on-cancer-cells

Berezow, A. (2014). Genes matter: People marry mates with similar DNA but different immune systems. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/05/20.genes-matter-people-marry-mates-with-similar-dna-but-different-immune-systems

Boseley, S. (2015). Gene therapy treatment for cystic fibrosis may be possible by 2020, scientists say. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jul/03/gene-therapy-cystic-fribros-2020-scientists

Kevles, D.J. (2016). The history of eugenics. Issues in science and technology, 32(3).

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