Austin's Essay


This is what its all about

I’m 17 years old. I stand a puny 5ft 9 and I have acne. I have flat feet and I suck at running. I have pale skin that burns within 5 minutes of exposure. My family has a history of high blood pressure, which makes me “high-risk.” My genetic deficiencies could continue for days. It leads me to question. Would “better” genes make a happier me? What about the future. . . Will my son be better than I am? Will his improved genetics make him a happier human? A whole new world of ethical question is emerging from advancing genetic technologies. Fresh controversy lies areas like genetic engineering and so called designer babies, genetically modified foods, and stem cell research. The questions are endless and the answers are gray at best.
To me, Genetic engineering gets a bad rep. A popular vision of Frankenstein haunts many skeptics. They argue that we are taking science beyond what we should as human beings. This argument that we are playing God is a faulty one. Isn’t any medicine at all extending our lives and playing God? Obviously disease treatment isn’t natural, but good luck finding a cancer survivor who isn’t grateful for their new lease on life. I believe if God didn’t want this to happen he would simply not allow it as with the tower of Babel.
I believe that we should harness the power of science to make our lives as humans better. After all, that is what we as humans have done throughout our entire history. Why should we stop now that we are getting to the good stuff? I do however have a number of concerns with genetic engineering and so called “designer babies.” Certainly, there are some lines that must never be crossed because they will ultimately bring about human suffering.
The first principle of genetic engineering that scares me is the potential inequality. The goal of science should be to eliminate human suffering but to me genetic engineering has the potential to actually cause more suffering if it would create more human inequality. Genetic engineering could physically create two distinct groups of people; the super humans and the “degenerates.” Imagine the hyper-racism that could result. This would occur within our own country but even more drastically internationally. Imagine industrialized nations evolving at accelerated rates while people of poor nations would remain sick and genetically poor. Genetic engineering would essentially make the rich more rich and the poor poorer. More suffering would be created and global problems would just be amplified. In this light, genetic engineering could prove to be selfish.
Another consideration is of genetic engineering in the hands of the wrong people. It is just a matter of time before the technology is used for evil purposes. Imagine a foreign dictator with the capability to raise a genetically superior army or further impoverish his civilians by keeping them genetically oppressed.

The advancement of genetic technologies has further implications. Genetically modified food is a prevalent one. The center of the GMOs debate is essentially the same question as all of these debates; are we playing God? Human nature has always been to develop means to make our lives easier. It is only logical that these desires would eventually reach what we eat. I believe that GMOs are completely unavoidable. However, I am a little concerned of having fish DNA in my strawberry. But to some degree I trust the scientists who are progressing these technologies. I think GMOs have a major upside and one day could prevent disease and aid world hunger. These technologies must however be regulated. Genetically modified organisms and corporate greed could prove to be a scary combination. Corporations have a responsibility to there customers to inform them of the product they consume. Labeling must be mandatory. Regulation is also necessary to prevent potentially disastrous ecological side effects. The fast growing salmon come to mind here. If released into the wild these fish could destroy entire eco-systems. For such reasons regulation should be strict and unrelenting. GMOs are inevitable, we must accept them, expose them and regulate them.
The next issue resulting from advances in genetic technology involves cloning and stem cell research. This is area I feel strongly about but it is a little more difficult for me to argue as I do not complete understand all the details. I do feel that the pros of stem cell research indeed out way the cons. I believe that a 3 day old embryo is something remarkable and should be respected. However, a believe that a fully-grown human who is suffering takes precedence over a couple of cells in a Petri dish. Scientific advances are made to end suffering. A human embryo is not suffering. It feels no pain. Yes, it is potential life but potential life is less important than actual life. If you had the choice to cure your mother of a once terminal disease or protect a couple cells that could potentially be human, could you really choose the cells? Here we have the opportunity to actually help people. That is what science and medical advancement is all about. I support stem-cell research and look forward to a future where disease is not an end.
Genetic Technologies are the future. These technologies are inevitable. Therefore, we must embrace them and develop regulations to prevent ethical abuses. The future is bright because of genetics.