I think that everyone in this class agrees that genetic modifications, for the sake of preventative medicine and increased immunities, is morally acceptable and for the better good. However, disagreement erupts when the idea of further enhancement is brought up. I aim to argue for the advancement of human genetic modifications beyond those of a medical nature.

Opponents of genetic modifications rely heavily on the argument that to genetically code for a certain trait robs the individual of the strength achieved by earning it. The idea derives from the phrase “it is the journey, not the destination” which leads many to the conclusion that to engineer strengths into an individual is to bypass the aforementioned journey. My very strong opinion on the matter is in opposition of this particular viewpoint. My projection of a society with an engineered gene pool won’t shrivel away under their IQs or naturally occurring athletic ability, but will instead flourish. I don’t believe DNA modification grants gifts but instead expands opportunities and increases the potential of humanity. So I’m tired of hearing stories about Jimmy, who overcame his learning disability to become a mathematician, I’m tired of people trying to pull on my heartstrings with corny images, set to Sarah McLaughlin music, of people who overcame their various diseases to do the wonderful things they did. Because all I see are stories of people with amazing wills who could have gone that much farther if they didn’t have their disease. In essence, I think that genetic enhancement won’t eliminate the journey, but instead will change the starting point of that journey. Instead of stories about subpar people overcoming things that the average person could, we would have more stories of people achieving things that we never though possible.

In class we watched a movie by the name of GATTACA, it was an amazing movie well written produced, and so-fourth. I’m sure that many of my classmates will include it in their essays. What I think the movie GATTACA lacked was a perspective. Sure the story of “Jerome” a man with poor genes overcoming his genetic status to take up a position reserved for those with better with a better genetic make-up is inspiring. But I think we need to look outside the little picture frame given to us by the screenwriter of that movie and similar dystopian science-fiction writers. For example, the next scene not shown in GATTACA was a 99% chance of a man going into cardiac arrest on a spaceship where his vacancy causes the entire crew and multi-million dollar project to go hurtling into a gas-covered rock. And in that sense I think it would be a great positive thing to assign positions to people based on their DNA, just as we would assign certain jobs based on physical fitness now. We don’t let people become firefighters if they can’t lift someone up and out of a house why shouldn’t we restrict positions based on similar genetic deficiencies. And my other question is, what of the scope of that fictional society? Could it be that without the abundance of genetic modifications there would not have been as many scientists in that fictional world, and that without them there may not have been a Titan mission to go on at all?

I judge the applicability of new technologies by their outcomes, and it seems to me that innovation in and the practice of human engineering would create a more advanced populace with more high end positions and overall a more productive society. Imagine a country that has to deal with 50% less medical bills because people have less susceptibility to viruses and stronger healthier bodies. We all know how much of a drag Medicaid and Medicare have been to our economy, genetic engineering promises a new and effective field of preventative medicine that only needs to be performed once, and then will be passed down throughout generations. What about a drop in crime rates due to a population with less anger management problems? Or less therapy and dangerous drug use because people are less susceptible to depression related to cortisol levels or other hormonal imbalances. Overall, genetic engineering has the potential to tear us away from our primal deficiencies and to refund us of all the valuable resource that we spend to maintain facilities that keep those shortcomings in check.

Possibly the largest and most significant argument concerning therapeutic cloning is the required stem cell research. The argument is essential those that erupt within the abortion issue. When is the fetus a child? When is there a "soul"? Except there is one essential difference with stem cell research. The fetuses are produced in a lab, closely monitored, and harvested within a matter of days, when the zygote has expanded to a mere 150 cells. In abortion only God knows how long that child has been brewing within the whom of the mother. In that sense the stem cell issue should be less of a moral dilemma, but there's something about destroying fertilized human eggs that gets under conservative skins. To paraphrase a good man I know: how can you compare a small collection of cells in a petri dish to my (adult) well being. The human suffering of those around us, fully formed organisms, is more significant in my mind than that of a microscopic cell group. To me a 3 day old fertilized egg is no more significant than a single sperm cell, egg cell, or any other microscopic component of the human body for that matter. Now the big resistance to my point of view is that the potential for human life should be treated as though it was already human life. But in this respect I see inconsistencies. Following that logic, shouldn't it be sinful for a girl to have a period, that's the potential for life being whisked away. Should we then condemn 13 year old girls who aren't pregnant, because their bodies have the potential for creating human life. Should chronic masturbators be compared to Stalin or Hitler for their great destruction of potential? I don't think so. My point is that most sperm and egg cells decay naturally, and in essence we're not really destroying any potential at all, we are merely creating good from what would be wasted anyways.

But as usual, the devil is in the details. The hard questions to answer about genetic engineering, as far as I’ve heard, are these. Who will decide what needs to be changed in the genetic code. How much will it cost, will it create a new impassable rift between poor and rich? The power to change our genetic blueprints is vast, there are tons of potential. But where there is so much potential for progress, there is also potential to disparage, whether purposefully or involuntarily. And it is frightening, as it has been with every new technology. No one doubts that the arrival of human influence in species creation is frightening. There have been large reactions against genetically modified food organisms in Europe, and even a growing resistance here in America. My stance on the issue is that genetic modification is coming, whether we like it or not. So the appropriate pragmatic response, in my mind, is to begin hammering out these nitty-gritty details before its arrival. We need to prepare for a world of genetic modification, not hide from it. We’ve seen what happens when the government shrinks away from impending problems; let’s not recoil back into isolationism for the coming era of genetics. Because when the nation condones an action that is bound to happen, there are horrible things that happen. Take for example the prohibition era, by banning all sales of fermented drinks the government essentially put the alcohol business into the hands of violent street criminals like Al Capone. That’s the last thing that we want to do with genetics. Imagine some renegade Dr. Mengele doling out genetic mods in a back alley, free of government regulation. That’s scarier to me than a nation that supports it, the FDA the EPA and the HHS having their say is far more comforting.

So when you ask me about the use of genetic modification, and its ethical implications, this is my response. Is it right is it wrong? It’s neither! Genetic engineering is a tool, and its moral implications derive from the way that we use it. So we need to prepare to use it the right way. Our society is slanted downwards; I see global warming, huge economic problems, and resource depletion. I’m tired of the overall pessimistic mood of humanity. Genetic engineering provides real solutions to many of these problems which stem from primal weaknesses, as in our addiction to meat which in turn decimates forested areas with cattle-feed crops. We need to take the direction of our species and change it, because we are headed in an alarmingly fast rate towards our world’s ultimate degradation. So, are we playing God? I say yes, and it’s about freakin’ time. What are we supposed to do, stand around perfectly still until God see's fit that we do something and our limbs start moving through some divine force? We need to stop cowering behind flimsy dogmatic rhetoric. But more importantly it is pertinent that we take accountability for our actions and confront the behemoth of genetic research.

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