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The Ethical Considerations Of Gene Editing

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Gene editing has been a controversial topic in the science department ever since it has been discovered. Science laboratories have used mice as subjects to grow human ears, genetically modified crops have been used to supply the food market, and also used to cure diseases within animals. The question of whether it should be implemented into the human fetus is now a topic that has everybody standing on their toes. Due to the morality and ethical reasons, gene editing should not be used on humans.

CRISPR-Cap9, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, was first introduced in 2012 as a gene editing tool that give scientists the ability to distort and change an organism’s DNA. The tools allows for addition, removal, and alteration of material in different locations in the genome for a certain outcome. Viruses are captured from invading DNA and used to,”create DNA segments known as CRISPR arrays. The bacteria then use Cas9 or a similar enzyme to cut the DNA apart, which disables the virus.” This phenomenal discovery allows for the prevention and treatment of illnesses such as cancer, blood disorders, and many more. France actually attempted this discovery with patients. In 2000, Alain Fischer and a team of scientists led the experiment in Necker Hospital, Paris for people who had the “bubble boy disease,” also known as Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, which causes vulnerability to life-threatening infections and no immune protection. Although with pure intentions, the experiments had to be suspended due to four of eleven children developing leukemia. Although gene editing can be used to cure these illnesses, the surface has barely been scratched for the process to be continued.

Although the intended purpose of gene editing is for the end of human diseases, the issue continues to be discussed in more ethical terms. When placed into the hands of unstable people, there is a question of whether the use is right or wrong. World War II unfortunately occurred due to Hitler’s unrealistic dream of a superior race of which only the strong and the fittest are the ones with the right to survive and continue living in our world. If proved successful, gene editing can be used to create an alpha race, similar to Hitler’s dream, where people have the option of their child’s strengths and weaknesses; maybe not even the latter. Sci-fi and utopian books have shown time and time again that when a civilization is divided based on inborn capabilities and traits, society is ultimately divided which leads to a catastrophic disaster. The inferior race suffers in poverty and despair while the superior live a life full of riches. Changing a human’s biological makeup for society’s selfish and unrealistic desires should not be tolerated. In the movie GATTACA, this the main character desires to be an astronaut, but only citizens with a certain genetic makeup are allowed to pursue aspirational careers. The movie has provided insight as to if gene editing were to actually happen, people’s abilities to actually work in the job they want are now disencourage since it now focuses on who the person is actually is and not what they can do to further improve the career field they choose to enter.

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The future generation also suffers because of the older generations mistakes. The great depression and slavery built the foundation of the world’s biggest problems to this day. Because humans are selfish, people will want to change their babies’ abilities for their own selfish desires. They want to create the next Beyonce, Albert Einstein, or Mark Zuckerberg 2.0. Although the parents who desire this technology may overlook the ethical compromises, they fail to comprehend that this occurrence is also a violation of their child’s rights. A fetus does not have the ability to express concern on how they are or were not made. A great example is climate change, which humans were not able to predict. Because of their ignorance and failure to think about the consequences, this generation is now left scrambling to find a solution to save the earth and make it past 2049. U.N. official Mostafa Tolba, executive director of the UN Enviroment program warned in 1982, “By the turn of the century, an environmental catastrophe will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible, as any nuclear holocaust.” What is to say human gene editing will not have the same effect? The future generation does not even have a say in how they are created, which can lead to more unpredicted issues. Another example is when scientists have applied gene editing for crops. However environmental science has shown time and time again that creating crops to resist the insects will only evolve the insects themselves. This creates a never-ending cycle of one going stronger than the other, which will ultimately lead to the insects overpowering the crops because we failed to keep up. Even though scientists intend to have the solution to cancer, this will lead to an even bigger cancer that will overpower even future technology. We will fail to keep up, and maybe create an undefeatable disease that will wipe us all.

Scientists who promote the use of CRISPR claim that the technology, “cheap and easy to use.” However, this only applies to other scientists who are already working in labs and are funded by wealthy organizations. As a nation, we have yet to provide third world countries, even the United States, with free or affordable healthcare. This will lead to only the wealthy having the access. According to the United States Census Bureau, “In 2017, the number of people without health insurance increased to 28.0 million, up from 27.3 million the year before,” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “one-fifth of Americans couldn’t afford one or more of these services: medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses.” This again brings up the topic of the superior race since only people of money will have the ability to use this technology, and will eventually lead to a change in society we will not be prepared for.

Although the intended purpose of gene editing is for humans to be cured of diseases, the issue still rises in the ethicality of it all. Humans are known to be selfish and unsatisfied with life which will ultimately lead to loopholes in the system that will lead to more undesired issues.

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The Ethical Considerations Of Gene Editing. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-ethical-considerations-of-gene-editing/
“The Ethical Considerations Of Gene Editing.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-ethical-considerations-of-gene-editing/
The Ethical Considerations Of Gene Editing. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-ethical-considerations-of-gene-editing/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
The Ethical Considerations Of Gene Editing [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-ethical-considerations-of-gene-editing/
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