The Modern Age of Human Evolution

As the world continues to rapidly advance in the use of technology, medicine, and agriculture, genetic modification is simply the next step in human evolution. Since the moment humans began to use reason, we have been using our intellect to make life less complicated and more proactive. Throughout the years human intelligence has continued to grow and in this current age our own development is creating ethical issues. Now with all new ideas and innovations there are always skeptics and those who do not want change. But with time, those who oppose new ideas get used them and understand the need for them in the ever changing world. For example, when vaccines and modern surgery were first introduced many people did not trust the practice, but today this form of medicine is performed all the time. Right now in the 21st century the big hype is genetic manipulation; people argue that we are “playing God”, destroying diversity, and doing something that is not safe. However being able to understand the human genome, engineer plants, and control stem cells can greatly benefit many aspects of the way we live. Of course there are going to be negative sides to the use of this new discovery, but what can be done for the good of humanity hugely outweighs them. By denying the use of genetic modification we are essentially denying the evolution of man.
When it comes down to sequencing the genome of everyone for the purpose of medicine, individual privacy becomes an issue. Currently people are already able to find much of someone’s information on the internet and theft of one’s identity is fairly common. So why does the idea of having one’s DNA sequence create such a scare? It will not be able to display one’s personality and way of life, just their coding for genetics and health. If discovering one’s genetic health problems is the scare, then people need to think again because health insurance companies already have records filing back years of individual health issues. Theses companies can find out when was the last time you went to the doctor for a physical or when you were first diagnosed with a serious genetic disorder. And besides, if DNA sequencing became a reality in the medical field it, individual sequences would not be open for the public to view; it would be very secure as are medical records today.
Once the issue of privacy is no longer a present concern and people realize it can be properly secured, then humans can move onto the next step by using the ability to sequence a genome for life saving purposes. Being able to read one’s DNA to determine their likeliness for specific genetic disorders would be an enormous advancement. Medication could be engineered to coincide with the certain gene coding for a disorder and a physician could prescribe a drug that would be for a patient’s exact health issue; the common struggle of guessing and checking for unwanted side effects and trying more medicine would no longer be a problem. Treatment for diseases would be much more efficient than it is today. Not only that, but genetic disorders could actually be prevented. Before a child is born its genome could be sequenced and unwanted disorders could be eliminated. In essence genetic modification is the most advanced form of preventative medicine. If we were to have the opportunity to prevent and eventually eradicate genetic disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, or even the gene for cancer, why would we pass it up? And if the idea that suffering is meant for humans to overcome it, why not use genetic alteration to overcome all the diseases and disorders humans have suffered with for so many years? Genetic modification of genes seems like the more humane thing to do rather than letting these defects continue to kill hundreds of people each day.
Another matter is that people believe if they were to see their DNA sequenced and have the opportunity to predict what they would die from their life would be ruined. Some feel that ignorance is bliss and knowing this much information would change their lifestyle from one of enjoyment to prevention. Now instead of preventing the whole idea of genomic sequencing, how about those who do not want it done do not have it done for themselves. It is as simple as that.
The only real risk of bringing genetic engineering to reality in the medical field is the idea of genetic enhancement. It may seem like good idea for parents to be able to remove unwanted genes from their children like homosexuality to ensure greater opportunity in society, but it would destroy diversity and could even lead to people creating designer babies. If parents had the chance to make their children perfect they definitely would and eventually there would be no diversity in the world (at least in the rich world) and those who could not afford it, their child would struggle in society with the perfect people. This is where the line needs to be drawn in genetic alteration. It should be done for medical purposes only; not to enhance anyone in anyway. If proper regulations were not taken in changing human DNA, Gattaca may become a reality.
Cloning is another recent discovering in genetics that can greatly benefit the advancement of human life. Whether it is reproductive cloning or therapeutic cloning, both give humans the opportunity to overcome current challenges. Right now reproductive cloning is already being done in farms around the United States. Some farmers clone their most productive and healthy dairy and meat cows to ensure high-quality production. The FDA has approved that meat and other products from cloned animals are safe to eat. Cloning animals for farming is a good idea for producing more food in the populating world. There should not be any concern for safety when eating cloned meats because the animals are complete natural copies of a regular animal.
Therapeutic cloning seems to be the more controversial type of cloning in terms of human ethics. It is very similar to reproductive cloning, however, instead of implanting the dividing embryo into a host, its stem cells are removed and the embryo dies. This raises the same issue that people have with abortion because removing a three day old cell is somehow the same as killing a baby. If people were to get over this idea of using stem cells is killing a life, so much would be accomplished in the medical field; spinal cord injuries would be cureable, new organs could be created to replace failing ones, and people who suffer from heart disease, Alzheimer's , and Parkinson’s could be treated. The list goes on and on when discussing the use for stem cells, it just does not make sense not to use them. A three day old embryo does not have a “life”, but a person dying of a failing liver is. So when the big picture is looked at about stem cells, which has a greater life purpose, the thousands who suffer and lose their life because of Parkinson’s disease or embryos sitting in a Petri dish?
The genetic engineering of plants is necessary for life to continue on this ever populating planet. Humans can no longer live in the old ways of farming, there needs to be some kind of change to increase yields, repel insects, and allow planting in all environments. In the beginning, farming was done individually, then it moved on to farming for villages and towns, then it expanded to farming and sending crops to different parts of countries, and now we are reaching the point where farming has to be done all across the globe in order for everyone to eat. With the introduction of changing the genes in plants, any plant can be grown anywhere in the world. A plant can be engineered to survive in colder temperatures and drier climates by simply adding a single gene. Plants can also be enhanced to have a more nutrient value. Rice has been given genes to produce more nutrients so malnourished people in Asia who can only grow rice are able to have a healthier diet.
Genetic engineering of plants is the only way to produce enough food for the growing population and end world hunger. Growing organically is just not practical for what needs to be done. The only people who really worry about growing and eating organically are the wealthy people because they do not have to struggle with starvation. If you were to bring a box of organic crops and a box of GMO crops to starving people in Africa, they would probably not care which they were eating as long as they had something to eat.
People often get nervous about eating genetically modified foods because they feel that they are not natural and pure. However they are exactly the same as organic crops they just have a few extra genes to help the plant live healthier. Adding genes do not chance the appearance, taste, or health factors of the plant. GMOs are obviously safe because they have been sold in United States supermarkets for over fifteen years. If they were not safe to eat, they would have been removed from markets long ago.
The idea for someone to own a gene is very strange and quite confusing. Does it even make sense for a gene to be owned? Corporations like Monsanto are doing exactly that as they have patented the genes they have added to their seeds. It seems like Monsanto should be able to patent the genes they created because they technically invented them, but how can it be regulated? Plants reproduce and spread naturally so the patented crops could blow into other farms and breed other none genetically modified plants making it difficult to tell if farmers had purchased the engineered crops or not. Due to the difficulty of regulating the ownership of genes, corporations should not be allowed to patent genes. Also it just does not seem right for a company to own DNA.
Religion has to be brought up because it affects so much of the decisions on these topics, but it should not in anyway. All of this is science, so how did God get involved? People can believe what they want but get religion out of the scientific world. God is just a theory like any other and I am sorry to say this but God is an idea that should have disappeared a long time ago. God was only brought up to give people a reason to explain the unknown, but now we have the ability to discover the unknown with our intellect. Humans have evolved so much and become so intelligent, religion is now just a burden which is slowing us down. We no longer need God and it is a fact that people must realize.
To conclude, genetic modification will be brought into real world use sooner or later. It will change the way humans live whether it deals with medicine, cloning, or agriculture. The possibilities for making life easier and more sophisticated seem to be endless as long as people can accept such changes. Understanding the human genome, using stem cells for medicine, and genetically altering plant DNA are all part of the next age of human evolution and it is inevitable that it will happen.