Week 6: Manufacturing the next generation By Claudia Zapien

I hate to be your typical conservative person but it seems like biotechnology is human’s way of playing god or creator. Biotechnology had greatly advanced the medical, agricultural and food science fields, but to what expense?

The human genome project was the beginning of the idea of human enhancement from a molecular perspective. Having a blue print of the human genes so that we can identify problematic genes sounds like a great idea; an idea that can potentially eradicate many diseases that would cause paint and suffering to many. The question at hand is do we have the right to change the course of life for the upcoming generation? Only because we have the technology to do such a thing is it correct for human to manipulate the life of a child who isn’t even born and make him so that they are free from certain illnesses that are due to genetic predisposition.

The term Gene Therapy is the practice of inserting genes into a patient’s cell and replacing preexisting alleles (gene variants) to perform some type of therapeutic function. It’s mainly used to replace mutant defective genes such as those that cause cancer with normal alleles to solve the problem that are cause by these genes. If this type of process could be used with reproductive cells, they cell would never carry this defective gene and the genetic make up of the new child would be forever altered and so would be altered the genes their offspring. This type of procedure is not being used in human at the moment, but it is known as germ line genetic engineering. It is something that is still being formulated and tested because it has not being successful thus far.

The procedure still hasn’t been tested on human or large mammals, but it is something that scientist are greatly pushing forward for. The problem with germ line genetic engineering is that fact that human traits do not only depends on one particular trait but a few and it is very dangerous to alter the genetic make up of a human being without being aware of the possible repercussion associated with this. Not only that, but genes control a variety of traits and by eliminating a gene that would potentially develop into a disease one might also eliminate a gene which would have had a useful trait.

The most significant reason why people oppose to this type of procedure is moral, but there are also other factors that attribute to the objection of this technological advancement. First of all of this procedure was to work the population would dramatically increase due to less death cause by diseases. There is also no way of knowing what type of side effect are cause by this thype of procedure since this practice has only been used on small animals. We could have a generation unbalanced human and we wouldn’t be able to know this until the child has turn a certain age where we can evaluate their emotional, cognitive, and social behaviors. It is cruel to subject human to this type of risk.

It seems like the more advanced we get the more we want to mold the next generation of people into a perfect model. No a days we can pretty much assimilate to society’s idea of perfection with plastic surgery very easily. It seems that people follow beauty and healthy trends, but along the years the trends change. How would we be able to change someone’s genetic make up permanently without it having negative repercussions? Who would be one who decides what traits are favorable and which are not. Is this the beginning of manufacturing the next generation?

As human we are unique because we are the ones that control our life and what will come out of it. We live life and the twist and turns that we encounter during our journey will shape us into the human being we are today. The greatest part of being human is the fact that we are free, we are free to decide who we are and what we want to become. We are free to choose, but what kind of choice will we have when certain decisions are already made for us before we are born.

The major reason why this research is being pushed forward is to help those who are predisposed to develop life threatening diseases, and if you look at it that way what’s the harm? People will live longer healthier lives, but is that really where it will end? Once we can manipulate genes in the early stages such as pre-conception, what will stop us from creating what society thinks of as the “perfect” generation.   

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-gene-therapy.htm

http://www.ess.ucla.edu/huge/germdef.html 

http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/AB/BA/Gene_Therapy_Overview.php

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP1×6txAO9c

-Claudia Zapien

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