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DryaUnda's avatar

What is your opinion of human genetic engineering?

Asked by DryaUnda (176points) January 9th, 2008

In particular, I’m interested in opinions regarding elective genetic enhancement through germline engineering.

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4 Answers

atr408's avatar

its good if they can make you fly

jgoose's avatar

as has always been the case, genetic engineering of humans can be an extremely positive innovation or an unimaginably destructive one depending on how it is regulated. While there are obvious benefits to being able to control gene content and expression in humans, such as the (relative) elimination of genetic disease, and the ability to make humans “better”, i.e. more resistant to disease, slower to age, more intelligent, etc., there are many important and dangerous downsides to consider as well. If people live remarkably longer in the future, will our world become overcrowded? What about the food supply? If science can control genes to make “better” people, what is to say that this ability will not be used for bad intentions, such as creating extremely violent people to be used as soldiers, or very strong and unintelligent people to be used for manual labor? While some applications of genetic enhancement can be considered to be positive, human nature would likely take over and eventually the use of that technology would get out of hand. While it is pretty far-fetched, if human genetic engineering is perfected what is to say we won’t end up with a real-life version of the movie gattaca? It is very easy to envision, in a world where people can be designed to be “perfect”, that any naturally born, unmodified people would be thrust into a second class, and be treated as subhuman, even though they are the true humans. I know alot of this sounds a bit sci-fi, but so did cloning animals 50 years ago, or going to the moon 100 years ago.

paulc's avatar

In one word (and relevant to this site): bioluminescence.

jvgr's avatar

As a means to eradicate genetic disease/disorder (mental and physical) Yes
To eradicate genetic physical deformity (cleft palate, et al): Yes
-The above, though, should be available to all members of society

For purely cosmetic reasons: I can tolerate it
To enhace “intelligence”: Ambivalent (all “intelligent” humans aren’t successful and many unintelliget humans are)
To drastically extend lifespan: Ambivalent (but I wouldn’t want someone to make that decision for me)
-I don’t think the above need to be available to all except as an option

My primary concern relates to igoose’s comment about a “subhuman” or 2nd class.
It seems that we, humans, are pretty good at having 2nd class citizens anyway, so this is more problematic. The current members of the 2nd class tend to exist primarily due to lack of funds for the basics of life including education. The unmotivated members of society exist in all socio-economic groups as do they criminals among us.

Then there is the “bad” side of good things. How will access to the technology, procedures, tools be kept in safe hands (and who decides who has safe hands)?

I can’t say yea or nay to the activity as a whole; the eradication of diseases, disorders and deformity is certainly a bonus (health care costs go way down) I’m sure the AMA will lobby hard against the issue on this basis.

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