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Becoming Post-Human : Genetic engineering

BY: Shikha Sharma | Category: Issues | Submitted: 2010-11-22 12:40:02
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Article Summary: "Genetic engineering (GE) on germinal tissues is the ability to change one's genes in a way that his/her offspring will be affected. This can be done in the early stages of development with current knowledge. Fortunately, attitudes are changing and recently the first genetically-engineered babies were born, though the technique u.."


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"Its time to stop worshipping gods and start aiming at becoming gods".

Genetic engineering (GE) on germinal tissues is the ability to change one's genes in a way that his/her offspring will be affected. This can be done in the early stages of development with current knowledge. I am against this prohibition for several reasons. Some extreme cases of persons with severe genetic diseases or that are hosts for genetic diseases cannot correct such errors in their children. GE can overcome all this; all it would take was to correct the gene(s) that coded the disease. In addition, I defend my right to change my body as I please. I also defended that if I wish to have children with upgraded brains, I should be allowed to. Fortunately, attitudes are changing and recently the first genetically-engineered babies were born, though the technique used involved changing a small amount of mitochondrial DNA. Still, it is nice to see such.

Genetic counseling techniques such as amniocentesis and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis are available and used to determine if fetus have these diseases and proceed with an abortion if the results are positive. IMV selection of embryos is becoming ever more popular. Following reasoning, I see no reason to stop someone from improving his/her children from an aesthetic point of view e.g., choosing the sex of the child is soon to become a reality. Completely abnormal characters-being incredibly short or tall, huge noses, acne scars etc. - are generally considered ugly. Most persons would like not to have them. So why not eradicating them? Why allowing some people to keep having those traits?

Some argue that these kinds of treatments will reduce the human species to only a few types of individuals while others argue that GE can aggravate social differences.

Upgrading our genome is the future. Of course, we need to be watchful as there are still many other technical problems to solve. For example, GE on mice is only about 5% effective and sometimes produces deformed mutants; the idea of birth of mutant children surely is horrifying for us all. But new techniques are being developed. As I mentioned, we can confirm the genes of the foetus; selection of viable clones while the egg is an unicellular organism can increase the viability of genetically engineered eggs. In another breakthrough, researchers have created the world's first genetically engineered/modified primate, a baby Rhesus monkey. The pioneer of GE for inherited disease based on single-point mutations (1900's) is now proposing to perfect in utero and germ-line genetic interventions.

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