Gene Therapy: A Cautious Pursuit

The idea of gene therapy was recently brought forward, more specifically is this a technology which should be pursed or opposed. Personally I believe the initial thought of gene therapy is really exciting as benefits to the medical field are endless. In saying this deeper consider should be explored into the social impacts this technology will have on society.

As a middle class male, who is aware of the social struggle facing many South Africans today I find the idea of gene therapy as a profitable product a injustice to the major of South Africans. My reason for saying this is that when gene therapy is released by corporations in the future the upper class individuals of society, already at an advantage in all aspects of life will be the first and only demographic able to afford the cost of this technology. Thus, this would create an even further divide socially in our already divided country. I just want to make clear at this point that I do not oppose this technologies release entirely, I would just like the reader to understand that this technology no matter the amazing benefits will come at a cost too many South Africans if the sale of this technology is driven at creating profits for the developers. This has the potential to go against rule 1a of the South African constitution of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. A potential resolution to this is to make it either affordable to all or secondly to make it available to all South Africans who fall under the public health sector.

The history surrounding genetics is clouded with stories of Nazi eugenics, personally I do not believe that in today’s society this is the same path this technology is following. The whole idea of gene therapy vs eugenics is that gene therapy is directed at improving individuals and not creating clone like ‘Aryan’ human race. In a society today which is moving towards more differences in appearance and thinking, gene therapy with regards to being able to change your appearance to anything you’d like has real benefits in diversity of the human race which is something that could reduce current judgement of appearance in today’s society.

When asking peers on their opinions to gene therapy most were happy with the idea of using this technology to cure genetic disorders and diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis and down syndrome. However, many had a problem with changing your unborn child’s appearance to a something you find pleasant. Why are we willing to allow certain alterations and be completely opposed to others. For me I believe this is due to the fact that everyone can relate on some personal level to death caused by some disease, most people whom I asked had experienced a loss of a family member due to cancer, cardiovascular issues… However the idea that you can control and predetermine another humans appearance does not sit well as it goes against the idea of freedom.

In closing gene therapy is an interesting and truly extraordinary technology nothing should be taken away from the scientists who have made this a plausible advancement of the human race. However, the use of this technology needs to be a collaborative efforts between governments and corporations to avoid possible social injustice as well as infringement on liberty’s of unborn individuals. A world governing body which is able to police and monitor the use of this technology will be greatly beneficial to society as there is nothing we can do to stop the advancement of the human race and corporations driven by profit.




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