With the advent of any serious technology is ethical issues. Perhaps there is no technology more ethically questionable than bioengineering, a technology that has come aboard since mapping of the DNA code and techniques to alter what is there have become available. In this essay, the risks of tampering with Human DNA, even for the sake of improved health, is questioned and discerningly rallied against in light of the irreversible damage that DNA manipulation poses, to self, others, and the fabric of society. As such, it is proposed that all projects that actively seek to alter the nature of Human DNA should be given the strictest guidelines and that all efforts to make ‘super-humans’ be stopped entirely. Learning of and presenting the perils of altering humans is a societal and political necessity since only by working diligently and totally against the manipulation of the Human genome can the course, beauty, and trial of human life be preserved for all that it is surely worth.
Altering DNA is not just a questionable choice for health, it is a serious and dangerous step forward for humanity that could well be into a pitfall, a trap of unimaginable and irreversible depth. Small gains in DNA editing are demonstrated in some forms of plant and animal life, largely in the cultivation of heartier plants, however, several serious moral plights have risen as well, such as the ownership of ‘seeds’, living material once thought to be a part of the planet’s common wealth. As Surges rightly points out as studies, knowledge, and manipulation practices of Human DNA become corporatized serious ethical challenges beyond count and scope are presented as well (Surges 221). Already, private corporations are patenting their discoveries of partial gene sequences to protect their investments and ‘intellectual property’ (Surges 222).
Not only does DNA editing and capitalization thereon threaten the solidarity of the planet’s natural inheritance, it also encroaches on the way of life that the natural inheritance has sustained. Yes, there are challenges to life as nature has presented it yet when people tinker with the basic code of life, in particular with human DNA editing, they open a doorway to corrupting said codes become and making ‘cheat codes’, advances that give people the ability to get ahead of others based upon their affluence. Furthermore, as some become advanced by DNA manipulation, they gain skills that they will use to set standards that will comprise the choice for people to remain the way they are, untampered with by the hand of engineering.
Make no mistake, people want to alter the natural human for the sake of an idealized one. Liao, Snadberg, and Roache write in their “Human Engineering and Climate Change” that biological challenges from the planet demand that humans rapidly adapt to the demands of the Earth so as to mitigate climate change. Consider their proposal to ‘make humans smaller’ to literally reduce the mass of their ecological foot print (Liao, Snadberg, and Roache 7). Besides being the beginning of an alternative race, no one knows what damages may come from having smaller humans and what type of additional risks that they would experience and impose on the rest of the population, like involuntary interbreeding. Smaller humans is however just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to human engineering for that is how human engineering advocates work, they start with one small advantage, seemingly harmless as rationale to justify a host of other changes, the next being cognitive enhancement engineering (Liao, Snadberg, and Roache 9).
What’s wrong with cognitive enhancements? If one person gets a brain upgrade, they also become a sort of alternative race, a species with an extra advantage over those who do not want to risk a medically unknown procedure that may ethically, spiritually, and socially violate their person. Yes, people with brain advancements may be quite intelligent but intelligence is more than just a genome, it is comprised of an escrow of experience derived from people having to make and grow from decisions made in adversity, factors that will become nullified if people become super-people without the challenge that has made people humans since the dawn of time. Indeed, many people will attest to the basis for their personable qualities comes from trial and tribulation, a factor that once removed in super-humans could relate sociopathic tendencies in a dangerously powerful master race.
Intelligence enhancements are still however rather neutral since everyone can see how smarts come in handy. Actually, this is just another ploy for human engineering advocates to get further into the next stage of their plan, actual personality characteristics. Liao, Snadberg, and Roache state that they would work on engineering people so that they have ‘enhancement of altruism and empathy’ (10). Make no mistake, even if altruism and empathy sound benign, manually changing the codes of creation may lead to an exaggeration of either quality, much to the detriment of the inherent principle of moderation that nature has always designed with. People who have no choice but to be altruistic or empathetic might not only be weaker, they may be violated by the editing, tampered with at a fundamental level so that they think more of others than themselves, a risk of unimaginable degree in a world already filled with predators who would gladly take a more docile and compliant population. Altruism and empathy are nice but only when freely given. Forcing people to be altruistic of empathetic is not empathetic yet this again appears to be just the start of the terror that genetic manipulation poses for all.
Beyond these concerns, other challenges are present as well. For instance, there is the chance that targeted gene changes will not accurately address the problems that they are designed to face creating genetic defects in children (Green 84). Since animals, not people, are usually experimented upon by, studies that first transfer over to humans may be risky since humans are admirably quite a bit more unique among its species than other species of animal. Furthermore, there is also no way of knowing how the offspring of those who are genetically manipulated will still be okay as second, third, and every generation after engineering efforts (Green 85).
Those for genetic engineering have plenty of counter-arguments to such cases. Namely, there is initial ‘foot in the door’ interest of using genetic engineering to fix genetic disorders, a practice is that many of the world’s scientists are gravitating towards (Knoepfler 46). Nevertheless, as has been stated, this is an exceptionally slippery slope since once one gene, even a hereditary form of cancer, is deemed ‘unnecessary’ then soon many other irritating traits, like red hair, could be removed as well. Even if disliked by humans, removing them could equate to destroying the biodiversity of the human genome and ruining the natural way that society depends upon. There also is the claim offered by Liao, Sandberg, Roache that Human genome editing is a strategy for dealing with climate change however since some of the most pressing issues in climate change are a lack of biodiversity, as evidenced by the ‘sixth wave of extinction’, suddenly homogenizing even more of the world’s life is only digging the whole hole deeper (Liao, Sandberg, and Roache 1). Third, there the argument that bioengineering is simply an ‘inevitability’ of capitalism, for consumerists in the capitalistic society will eagerly embrace the opportunity of biocapitalism (Baylis and Robert 2). With the reception of biocapitalism however comes the risk of bioimperialism, a war of resources that could pit natural economies against an increasingly artificial one as bio-sovereignty, a natural right, is expunged by dominant gene pools (Ong and Chen 89).
To keep human interest in genetic information and manipulation pure and solely in the domain of science, rather than bioimperialistic, expansion, the group United Interest in Support of Organic Life, ‘UISOL’ will be created for operating at the federal level of governance. Through UISOL’s federal guidance and monitoring programs, research facilities, scientists, and common interest in genetic editing will be tapered towards the barest, most transparent, and most responsible sort of interactions for all scientific work in the genome to come in the centuries ahead.
By working as an educative and regulative agency, UISOL aims to solve the several dozen challenges posed the increased interest in Genetic engineering. There are so many places and ways that scientists, public and/or private, could push human genetic engineering into a state of irreparable affect, such as the creation of super smart people who may violate the rights of others as retaliation for having been altered themselves. UISOL will work with the federal government to employ the strictest monitoring efforts for human genome manipulation ranging from reviewing those with the capacity to alter human genomes to those who are in the process of pushing the envelope with the minor ways that it is already happening. As a federal government agency, USIOL will work to pass laws that restrict Human Genome editing to only the fairest variety of assistance, the restriction of life-threatening diseases only. Any activity that arouses suspicions about designer babies or super-humans will be immediately deceased and reviewed by a board of educated scientists, philosophers and politicians.
UISOL shall operate off of funding secured from the government, likely not through an increase in taxes but a strategic relocation of money from spheres of the government that have taken far too much of the people’s money, like the military industrial complex. Besides working to monitor human engineering, UISOL shall endeavor to provide human engineering education regarding the ways that it is viewed, what the costs are, and how dangerous the situation can become if not monitored. This may also equate to UISOL’s distribution of funds and grants for projects given to scholars who are interested in advancing alternatives to human genome, such as natural evolution, a process that while once was involuntary, can become a conscious act with full understanding of what it means to procreate as well as the several ways that evolution is shown to be possible even after birth through epi-genetics (Lipton 39).
The public support for this project will be drawn from all people who value their self, the natural and given form of who they are and wish to keep the integrity of the human species intact from those who would subtlety and/or overtly change the codes of life. Though many of such supporters may be ‘godly’, interest in the integrity of natural biology is as common as a healthy respect for nature, a sense that everyone, even in the scientific community, should feel in lieu of increased biological challenges as a result of human interference in natural biology. Furthermore, those who fear biological imperialism and the threat that poses for an independent form of life. Indeed, with the way that DNA genome knowledge and technology has already been corporatized to the significant controversy of those involved, it indubitably will be publically appreciated if the government was ahead of the curve in preventing Human DNA manipulation and capitalization.
Political parties in support of UISOL may largely be to the right, the conservative side, since this is a practice in conserving the best resource that humanity possibly has, its DNA. Conservative party members and politicians will be informed of UISOL and given the opportunity to pledge their consent to the initiative through donations and the proposing of law that reforms the way that Human Genome editing is handled. The political parties will need to however work on seeing this as a bi-partisan issue that transcends considerations of republican or democrats since this is a fundamental human rights issue. Indeed, politicians and UISOL will have to working on promoting the protection of the Human Genome in all communities everywhere. This means working with the world’s counties to ensure that they all understand the sensitivity and delicacy of Human Genome as one of the world’s most vital resources. In fact, unless the world bands together in protection of the Human Genome, efforts to protect it in just one place can be made obsolete by practices undertook in places elsewhere.
Human DNA editing is a risky game that some want to capitalize into an even riskier business. What losses are there to increase intellect, athletics, and morals? The loss of a natural way of life, a threat to those who do not want to tamper with their genes for personal, ethical, spiritual, or natural reasons, reduction in biodiversity, and even the opportunity to exploit people in unimaginable degrees. Therefore UISOL, United Interest in Support of Organic Life, should begin work immediately to prevent human genome editing from taking off and becoming the runaway train that it threatens to be. This will be done not only through regulation and monitoring but education and furthering of work that ultimately leads to the same ends but by fewer types invasive practices to be homed in the present and sought in the future throughout society and the world.
Baylis, Françoise, and Jason Scott Robert. "The inevitability of genetic enhancement technologies." Bioethics 18.1 (2004): 1-26.
Green, Ronald. Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice. Yale University Press, 2008.
Liao, S. Matthew, Anders Sandberg, and Rebecca Roache. "Human engineering and climate change." Ethics, Policy & Environment 15.2 (2012): 206-221.
Lipton, Bruce. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles. Hay House UK, Limited, 2015.
Knoeplfer, Paul. GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies. World Scientific, 2015.
Ong, Aihwa, Chen, Nancy. Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate. Duke University Press, 2010.
Moran, Katy, Steven R. King, and Thomas J. Carlson. "Biodiversity prospecting: lessons and prospects." Annual Review of Anthropology 30.1, 2001: 505-526.
Sturges, Melissa L. "Who Should Hold Property Rights to the Human Rights Genome--An Application of the Common Heritage of Humankind." Am. U. Int'l L. Rev. 13, (1997): 219.