Ever since the beginning of mankind, we have been obsessed with modification of all different types. From modifying the terrain to establish farming to modifying our own appearance man made change is the only constant that has remained after these millions of years.
What is Eugenics?
The Miriam Webster dictionary defines it as ” a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed”. Eugenics has been given a dark history as previous the techniques used to implement this ideology were inhuman. Examples of those techniques are: The Nazi’s ethnic cleansing, sterilization of peasants, and forced breeding.
Modern Day Eugenics
This theory has been re-purposed and re-branded behind scientific technology. This technology is called genomics. Genomics is known as the study of genes and their functions. Through the study of human human genome, we can understand how our genetic code effects gene expression and how it effects our lives. By studying our genome way have been able to identify the sequences which code for many of the genetic diseases that are passed down through the generations. Through modification of these mutations in our DNA sequence it has become possible to counter these diseases by changing the code itself.
Biggest Genetic Diseases
Many of the worlds deadliest diseases are passed down in a families genetic code. This is why many families will have a history diseases such as cancer. Statistics supplied by Global Genes show states that 1 and 10 Americans are affected by a genetic disease. Many of the current treatments available are very inefficient and risky. The treatment for OTC Deficiency requires a liver transplant that has a large mortality rate. Treatment for Hemophilia is currently done by factor replacement which occurs at least three times a week.
The mainstream technique being utilized in order to success at genetic modification is known as CRISPR. This technique works by using RNA in order to allow Cas proteins to cut the DNA sequence. This discovery has been vital in improving the technology used to edit DNA sequences. You can read more about this technology and its implications in the field here.
The Moral Battleground
Genetically modifying embryos in order to prevent genetic diseases is a good cause but at what point does this technology cross a moral line? An survey taken by Pew Research Center determines that 46% of Americans are okay with this genetic modification. But at what point is this taken too far? The public is against the development of so called ‘Designer Babies’, 83% of Americans are against of modifying babies to make them ‘more intelligent’.
Should this technology be utilized to prevent genetic diseases? Or doss it cross the boundary into areas humans shouldn’t play with?