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A Genetically Modified Future?

The quest for human perfection has been around since the beginning of time. Early humans would use piercings, tattoos, and paint to mark their bodies in an attempt to enhance themselves. In World War Two, the German Nazis were convinced that they were a superior race (the Aryan Race), and therefore began experimentation in pseudoscience to make other individuals like them. Today, a large debate rages on about the idea of perfect humans. What if people were able to choose exactly how their child looked before it was born? For some, this could be a chance to remove that genetic mutation that causes breast cancer from their unborn child and future generations. Others believe that this changing of one gene will lead to a downward spiral. Their question is if one gene can be modified, why not modify all of them? They are concerned that soon children will simply be built to order. They will no longer be cared for as they once were. The children would become a monument of sorts to the great competition to find the perfect human.

The vast majority of Americans (as much as 80%) believe that genetic modification is wrong and strongly oppose it. Some people fear that if society begins to modify genes to simply eradicate a disease from a genetic mutation, nothing will stop people from digging deeper into the genetic code and creating made to order babies. Their concern is that, even though as much as 80% of the population in the United States opposes it, many individuals will feel compelled to also begin to modify their children for fear of their offspring being left behind (Hayes 520). Many fear that “playing God” by modifying genes is against their religion. Still others believe that this will cause parents to replace parental love with critical scrutiny, as modifying genes could allow individuals to create the “perfect” child.

On the flip side of the coin, some individuals do believe that genetic modification is the future. They see the endless possibilities of genetic modification: reducing susceptibility to certain diseases, increased life span, better cognitive functioning, and cosmetic enhancements. They believe that the human genome is not a once-and-for-all piece of work. Some individuals also believe that genetic mutation could also reduce the class divide. They point to the eradication of dyslexia as a point of social betterment. Green states in his article that genetic modification may not even be intruding on God’s domain. He points to a speech Pope John Paul II gave in 1982, which suggested that genetic modification is acceptable for curing and preventing diseases. He also points out that knowing the genes in humans may increase the current knowledge by helping society understand the biological obstacles—and opportunities—that can be worked with.

This debate will not end anytime soon. It will continue to spark intense and heated conversations in households and government chambers all across the world. Humans will always feel an urge to improve themselves. It is seemingly natural to try to be superior to the individuals around him or her. After all, it is competition that drives the free market and capitalism. It is simply a matter of whether or not humans chose to act upon this urge. For some, it is not as much of a competition as it is a way to eradicate the gene mutation that causes cancer from their family lineage once and for all. So the question remains, does the human race have the right to modify their offspring to create the perfect human? Only God truly knows the correct answer to that.

Genetics | science in society


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