Thursday, February 26, 2015
Genetic Engineering: What Lies Ahead?
My contribution to our group presentation of the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering in humans is to highlight the disadvantages. Genetic engineering does have many advantages by possibly curing hereditary diseases, eliminating genetic disorders, preventing children being born with disabilities, etc. But as the field develops further, many disadvantages can arise for the population as a whole. As with every field concentration, genetic engineering and biotechnology will develop innovations and grow to offer changes to even more areas of genetics. For this discussion I will highlight on two disadvantages of genetic engineering in terms of genetic enhancements.
A disadvantage that will arise very close to when genetic enhancement first becomes available at the consumer’s choice is further separation between social classes. Stratification amongst social classes is a well-known fact of contemporary society. Genetic enhancements threaten society’s equality even more by providing another form of stratification between social classes by limiting a resource from the lower classes. Genetic enhancements give higher classes even more room for improvement of themselves and allow decedents more ability to succeed even higher than the lower classes than these classes did previously. Genetic enhancements challenge the question of whether innovation should be beneficial to society as a whole or can be available to a minor fraction of the population and solely benefit the individual.
Speaking long term, genetic enhancement threatens the evolution of humans and greatly decreases genetic variety amongst populations. If the majority of the population's genomes were to become similar due to the same desired mutations being put in place by genetic enhancements then there would be less genetic diversity, including in immunity. The majority of the population would suffer from pathogens successfully intercepting their immune systems. It would make it very difficult for populations to prevent the spread of viruses and other pathogens since a much lower percentage of people would have the immunity needed to fight off these pathogens.