Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Almost everyone has probably heard of this move before, but if you haven't, it's an interesting one to watch some time and is very relevant to this topic: Gattaca. It grapples with the question of how genetic engineering will affect daily life, and follows a man who is born without genetic enhancement living in a society rife with it.
Genetic engineering may be possible far off in the future, but I'm not sure if it should be pursued for humans. It is done in many crop species already. One problem with those plants is that they are nearly identical in genetic code, which leads to them being susceptible to disease. If large swaths of people decided to get muscle, memory, and height enhancements, they could open themselves to the same types of vulnerabilities. Another problem is that genes interact in myriad and sometimes confounding ways. They may be simple to control in model organisms, but a recent study on the human genome found that over 400 genes contribute to height in some way. To attempt to change those genes could be to sacrifice many people in the attempt of progress, since one single change in genetic code can mean the difference between life and death; how many would have to suffer to find the right combination of over 400 genes so a person could be slightly taller? It may be possible one day, but I certainly won't be signing up for any genetic engineering trials.