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  • Alex Wok

GE Babies



Facts:

  • First realised in 1972, genetic engineering is when an organism’s existing DNA is directly modified to produce advantageous traits, or remove deleterious ones. This technology is already in use in 'GMO' foods, whereby crops are 'nutritionally enhanced' to fix nutritional shortages in impoverished populations

  • In April of 2015, the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 was catapulted into the public spotlight when it was used by a Chinese research team to successfully modify a human embryo for the first time in history. This was a momentous occasion for humanity as it meant that we now possess the technology to modify the ‘human germline’ (genes that can be passed down inter-generationally), potentially allowing. This has the potential to fix a range of serious social & medical problems, for example:

  • ​The prevention of debilitating genetic disorders

  • The development of 'enhanced' humans with traits such as intelligence or athleticism that surpass the average human.​

  • Many argue that it is now merely a matter of time before such applications are expanded to the heritable genes that will define our future generations, including the creation of 'designer babies', or the creation of humans with artificially enhanced traits. This area is highly controversial, as there are serious ethical questions over whether modifying human life is morally correct.

Issue:

Should we genetically

modify human life?



Sources:

  1. The Telegraph UK, 'Genetically engineering 'ethical' babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor'

  2. National Geographic, 'Pro and Con: Should Gene Editing Be Performed on Human Embryos?'

  3. Mother Jones, 'A Future of Genetically Engineered Children Is Closer Than You’d Think'

  4. Above, reference 3.

  5. Wikipedia, 'Commercial Surrogacy in India'

  6. Above, reference 3.

  7. Mic, 'Genetic Engineering Debate: Are There Lines We Shouldn't Cross?'

  8. Above, reference 2.

  9. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 'Abstract: KLB is associated with alcohol drinking, and its gene product β-Klotho is necessary for FGF21 regulation of alcohol preference'

  10. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 'Short: Monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA) predicts behavioral aggression following provocation'

  11. Forbes, 'Genetic Engineering Will Make Income Inequality Much Worse'

  12. Above, reference 3.


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