An Ethical Dilemma that We Must Address

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Some major ethical dilemmas that are related to genetics are the issues of 'designer babies', genetic testing in the workplace, insurance provided based of genetic information, having kids if genetic diseases are present and terminating embryos with genetics "flaws". These are not the only ethical problems but these are the most relevant within our culture. I am only going to touch on a couple of the genetic issues.
Genes that we inherit from our parents make up every biological aspect of us. For example Intelligence is 40 to 80 percent inherited which is an interesting concept in itself. But the parts of our brain are formed based of the genetic material we are given. This leads to the formation of all four lobes including the smaller parts such as the amygdale, hippocampus and hypothalamus. In a study done by Yaling Yang of University of Southern California shows that pathological liars have less white matter in their prefrontal cortex. This information is astonishing because the lack of white matter is a malfunction in their genome that they had no control over. They are genetically predetermined.
Hopefully in the future we can connect every genetic disorder/disease or biological problem to a particular gene so we can eliminate them from the human genome. But wait lets think about that the repercussions of that. If those particular genetic codes are so detrimental why have they been able to survive within our genome for so long? An answer to that could be that those genes helped prevent diseases that killed many of our ancestors in the past. An example of this is sickle cell anemia which is a genetic disease. People who have sickle cell anemia are resistant to malaria which is a life threatening disease in Africa. If we would eliminate a particular gene in our genome there is a high probability that a disease will come about that could kill many if not all people because we would not have that particular gene that makes us immune to the hypothetical disease.
We must be careful before we start messing around with our genes because dangerous and life threatening situations can arise. Either new disease can kill us, or our insurance companies/court systems can come down on people who might be predisposed to mental/biological issues. Much consideration needs to be given to insure we are making the best decision for humanity.

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I agree with your phrase "the best decision for humanity". It seems that such a matter as rearranging human genomes is something that ought to be addressed as a large-scale, highly important issue. It is a matter that has the potential to affect all of humanity in future generations. The fact that as of yet, it is being utilized on such a small scale, disguises it to be a personal choice, made in vain by parents, to create designer babies. However, if this is an issue that could grow into a way of preventing harmful psychological or biological diseases and disorders, its future is in the hand of humanity, not merely interested individuals.

I believe that it is wrong to allow parents to pick the "best" embryos. While deleting a harmful gene seems great to the immediate family, we have no idea as to how that could affect everything else. If everyone is allowed to make their perfect baby, our future generations could be affected negatively. Although I know that no one would ever want their child to have a disease or something similar, I think it's best to just let everything occur naturally.

Have you seen the movie, “GATTACA (1997)”? The film is about genetic issues. In the near future, every baby’s genetic information is collected right after birth. It tells physical flaws, intelligence and even estimated lifespan. The protagonist is born with “bad” genes and his estimated lifespan is only about thirty years. Frustrated parents decide to have their second child perfect genes. As the genetic information collected right after birth estimated, the protagonist has bad eyesight, weaker physical ability than his younger brother. But he tries hard and pursues his dream. However what the companies care about is his genetic information. The film tries to depict the negative consequence of overdependence on genetic facets. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you should. Very interesting movie!

I would also highly recommend watching Gattaca or reading the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley--I'm sure you will find them intriguing as they both deal with gene manipulation. While manipulating genes to prevent people from contracting disease might be an interesting thought, I just don't know if I am comfortable with that idea. Gene manipulation just feels wrong to me as it would provide people with yet another avenue for discrimination. I also feel as thought it's cheating the system. Humans have evolved a certain way for certain reasons, and I just don't think it would be wise to tamper with that.

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This page contains a single entry by fuchs092 published on April 22, 2012 9:11 PM.

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