Using methods, such as molecular transformation and cloning, genetic engineering alters the nature and structure of human genes or those of animals and food. Years ago, it was thought to be a real problem, where we feared that we might be interfering with nature and playing God. Concerns with regards to this controversial aspect of science are still alive and well, though they are less talked about these days. Listening to what the proponents and opponents say about this technology, it seems like genetic engineering is both a blessing and a curse. To come up with a well-informed decision yourself, look into its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Human Genetic Engineering
1. It offers us the potential to live longer.
Though human life span has somehow already shot up by a number of years thanks to developments in modern medical science, genetic engineering is believed to make it even longer. While there are common diseases that occur later in life and can cause people to die earlier than necessary, this technology could reverse some of the common reasons for the natural decline of the human body on a cellular level, drastically improving both quality of human life and lifespan. Genetic engineering is also expected to help us adapt to the growing problems of global warming and other environmental issues. If the places get a lot colder or hotter, then we can adapt quicker and better than waiting for evolution to take place.
2. It eliminates all illnesses in unborn and young children.
Many genetic problems are detected even before children are born. In the womb, doctors can find out whether a fetus is going to suffer from diseases, such as Down’s syndrome or sickle cell anemia. Also, the date on which one can have an abortion will be pushed back relatively early, which means parents can decide whether to abort a baby with genetic conditions or illnesses or not as early as possible. As you can see, this technology can even help cure diseases in unborn children, so they will be born strong and healthy with no abnormalities or health conditions. Moreover, it can be used to help people who risk passing degenerative diseases on to their offspring.
3. It can rid the world of serious diseases.
Some of the most difficult and deadly diseases in the world, which were able to dodge destruction, can be eliminated with genetic engineering. There are genetic mutations that human beings can suffer from and that will probably never cease unless we use genetic engineering for the next generations, therefore withstanding such problems. For example, dangerous and progressive diseases known for having no cure, such as cystic fibrosis, can be completely cured with selective human genetic engineering.
4. It produces new types of food.
Genetic engineering is not just useful to humans physically, but is also helpful in designing food and crops that can better withstand atmospheric conditions, such as harsh temperatures. These food sources are still packed full of all the right nutrients that human beings need to survive. It is even believed that this technology can make food have better medicinal values, which means that what we eat can already serve as edible vaccines that fight diseases.
List of Cons of Human Genetic Engineering
1. It might lead to genetic defects.
One big problem with human genetic engineering is the question of safety in altering things on the cellular level. While scientists still need to completely know how everything in the human body works (though they do already have a very good idea), it still comes with uncertainty to fully understand the ramifications of little changes in s cellular level. What if they are introducing a new and even more dangerous disease from eliminating one? Also, the procedure to genetically engineer fetus while still in the womb can pose real and present danger that can lead to complications, including stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage. Experiments in genetic engineering have a success rate that leaves a lot to be desired, and the human body is so complicated, where scientists have to be able to predict the effects of their actions—they simply cannot account for things that will not go well.
2. It would place some limits in genetic diversity.
Human beings and all animal species need diversity, and genetic engineering can have a detrimental effect on this diversity in the same way cloning would. Gene therapy will only be affordable to the rich and elite, and those who cannot receive it will not have the chance to obtain specific traits that are said to improve quality of life. And if it is made available to all people, this technology would make everybody similar.
3. It can be exploited.
One pressing argument regarding human genetic engineering is that whether it could end up going too far. While there are many scientists with honest intentions in using the technology, there are also those who might take their research too far. There is high possibility that people would demand designer babies, where they can choose the sex, intelligence, physical measurements, which would not be fair for others. While genetic engineering is progressing further day by day, the risks of it going too far are also becoming ever present, worrying the world.
4. It comes with some ethical issues.
Since its inception, human genetic engineering has always received the reaction whether it is ethical or not. Particularly with religious groups, such a method is believed to be tantamount to playing God. Aside from the religious arguments, there are also other ethical objections, where opponents think that diseases exist for a reason. They believe that the world needs at least a few diseases, otherwise the world will become overpopulated. Longer lifespan has actually caused social problems, which means that artificially extending everyone’s time on Earth would cause more unpredictable problems in the future.
Genetic engineering is one of the topics that caused a lot of controversy. It may work wonders, but we do not really know whether playing with nature is really safe. Making yourself aware of all its pros and cons can help you with forming your own opinion.