The fantasy of modifying human characteristics is not a fantasy anymore. In genetic modification or genetic engineering, scientists directly manipulate genes to change the genetic makeup of cells. From choosing the color of your baby’s eyes, to eliminating pre-existing conditions, genetic modification is a sure way of having a promising life. But with that being said, complications and controversy is inevitable when applying this technology. Genetically modified humans should be heavily restricted because it can have many negative affects on people’s lives.
One way that it affects people’s lives is it may create a separation between modified humans and non modified humans. As a result, a new emphasis on discrimination will occur. Another way it can affect the lives of people is it can lead to stress and pressure on children to fulfill their parents modifications. Also it can bring up the possibility of a genetic arms race. Which can potentially start conflicts among the world. In the article “Building Babies From the Genes Up” by Ronald Green brings up the notion of human gene modification.
Ronald Green, professor of religion and ethics at Dartmouth and professor of community and family medicine at Geisel school of medicine explains how modifying human embryos is on its way to the future. Scientific discoveries are happening everyday and advancements in technology will soon be able to modify specific genetic coding. Green describes the benefits of gene modification into eliminating fatal DNA sequences that a child does not have to go through in their lives. He also explains that cognitive complications like dyslexia can be removed.
Green displays the scientific side of the issue and its benefits. Although it is great to eliminate pre-existing conditions before the baby’s life, some people might not be for testing on human embryos if that is the case. Green displays reasonable opinion on the issue and clarifies that genetic modification in humans is something that the human race has to accept in order to be in place. Concerns about genetically modified humans raise issues from parents that want their child to have enhanced ability for certain traits to increase their child’s chances of success in the future.
Green brings up the question of if children will stress over being forced to live up to their genetic abilities bought by their parents. “If I refuse to use my costly genetic endowments, will I face relentless pressure to live up to my parents’ expectations? ” (Green 571). Green uses Tiger Woods as an example for the problem of genetically modified children fulfilling their parents expectations. Green answers by saying that tiger inherited genes from his father that led him to becoming a professional athlete. “The fact is that a child is remarkably influenced by the genes they inherit. (Green 571)
This brings up that Tiger Woods was not being pressured by his father, concluding that Tiger had a passion for his abilities. Green does not think genetic modification is all that threatening to life as he concludes “Although, I acknowledge the risks, I believe that we can and will incorporate gene technology into the ongoing human adventure. ”(Green, 572). Richard Hayes was the founding executive director of the Berkeley, California-based Center for Genetics and Society. Author of “Genetically Modified Humans? No Thanks. ” Richard Hayes objects the thought of human gene modification in his article.
He talks about how modifying genes that cause obesity just to prevent the stress of being obese later should not be the way genetic modification is used. Using genetic modification to take away obesity traits raise ethical issues. He thinks it is unethical to create humans to a desired genetic coding for their future benefits. Hayes says that the issue can cause global problems for living conditions and current world affairs. “What happens when some rogue country announces an ambitious program to improve the genetic stock” of its citizens?
In a world still barely able to contain the forces of nationalism, ethnocentrism, and militarism, the last thing we need to worry about is a high-tech eugenic arms race. ” (Hayes 574) The world will be too caught up on this science instead of resolving current issues in their own country. This theoretical situation made by Hayes is another criticism he makes on how human genetic modification will become an issue in people’s lives. The author criticizes Ronald Green’s essay saying that it is unethical to enhance your appearance through genetic modification.
Hayes explains that using this technology to enhance our abilities should not be applied to the study of human gene modification. He agrees on one of the effects of human gene modification, that using this technology should be strictly for eliminating pre-existing disease. In Green’s essay, he expresses how cosmetic enhancements may be in the future if gene modification is accepted along with modifying genomes to eliminate terminal diseases. Green does not grasp the issue of ethics in modifying human appearances, but does take into account of some opposing issues of the technology.
In the article, “Designer Genes” Bill McKibben proposes many facts and details about genetic technology and the specifics of gene modification. He explains that the decision that is derived from the people who support human gene modification, influence the future of human lives. Mckibben says that “all this genetic technology can add to our child a lot of “features” which he might miss or not gain while unborn. ”(McKibben 1) He notes that if human gene modification did start, it is inevitable that newer or even more options will become available in the future.
He compares this thought to the Windows software because Windows is constantly changing adding new options. He asks how the parents would feel after a few years a new option is available and how the kids would feel about themselves knowing there is a “new model” (McKibben 2) an improved version. The author realizes that if gene modification is approved by some, it is just a matter of time it will be approved by everyone else trying to get the same advantages for their child.
With this being said he goes on to explain this trend as “setting off a kind of biological arms race. (MCkibben 2) Modifying human genes should be heavily restricted. While parents modify their child’s abilities in intelligence, athleticism and appearance, other parents would feel obligated to do the same for their children because their child will have a disadvantage with modified peers. Parents want the best for their children and they will go through any obstacles to fulfill their child’s needs.
Richard Hayes says in his article “ Even parents opposed to manipulating their children’s genes would feel compelled to participate in this race, lest their offspring be left behind. (Hayes) As a result of this issue another issue comes into play. With modifications to their children, comes uncertain pressure and stress, trying to fulfill their parents expensive genetic modifications. This is a problem to the child and can result in physical and or emotional damage. Ronald Greene argues that children are highly influenced by their inherited genetic traits. Referring to the example in Green’s article about Tiger Woods and how he inherited traits from his father but was not pressured by his father in that way because he loved the sport.
The final point I emphasize on restricting gene modification is the division of genetically modified humans and organic humans. This can result in separated communities and occupations like Green’s referral to the movie Gattaca. Hayes also mentions that there can be the possibility of discrimination saying “If misapplied, they would exacerbate existing inequalities and reinforce existing modes of discrimination. ” (Hayes) What if there were separate species of humans, humans with modified genes and humans without it?
Would the world have separate sports, jobs, or schools? There is a possibility that discrimination will result in separate communities. Creating a sort of dystopian society in the world, potentially changing the ways humans live. The issue of human genetic modification can sprout many ethical conflicts and complexities in people’s lives if the practice is proposed. If we keep the movement of not accepting this technology, we will not have to face the negative possibilities of modifying human genes.
Agreeing on the only one supportive result of modifying genes is the eliminating the spread of cancer, diseases and cognitive traits like dyslexia. This will be great for future parents to give their children life without health complications. Eliminating disease through gene modification reduces the chances of death and be able to increase the lifespan of humans. But risking the negative factors on this issue can drastically affect the way we live their lives today.