Thanks to ATS and it's mods for providing an opportunity to debate important issues on this forum.
In this match, Sublimecraft and I will debate the ethics of parents genetically engineering their children.
Genetics is an incredibly deep topic which humans are still working to get to the bottom of. A significant step was taken with the completed
sequencing of the entire genome, by the human genome project
in conjunction with private companies (notably
All of our traits and bodily processes are directed by our genetics. Among about three billion base pairs, which work like a coded blueprint for our
biology, there are about 25,000 that instruct the production of various proteins, and effect how our body functions.
The vast majority of what is contained in our genome is considered "junk DNA."
Scientists understand the consequential coding more than the inconsequential. Certain sequences can be linked with a predisposition for illness. For
example, mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 show a strong link to a significantly higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer in
As the genome becomes better understood, we will be able to correlate more sequences with disease risk.
Today, there are already a large number known of genetic disorders. wiki-list
If your child's DNA tested positive for Tay-Sachs, and there was a gene therapy treatment available, would you cure your child?
Here is where the genetic engineering questions start. There are already a large number of genetic disorders and risk factors associated with genetic
code. Why should we prevent parents from curing their child of a completely debilitating disease?
In the broadest sense parents should be allowed to genetically engineer their children
Sublimecraft will be arguing against genetic engineering, and I am sure he is eager to point out the slippery slope involved.
It may be argued that pursuing genetic engineering now, in it's early stage, may lead to artificial humans and an insurmountable advantage to wealthy
families who code their children with traits for boosted intelligence, physical strength, and attractive appearance.
You can bet that if the splicing technology were available, many parents would be eager to expunge their Child's DNA of "negative" genes and replace
them with more favorable ones.
This is an extremely difficult topic.
Most agree that some genetic treatments, modification, should be allowed to treat disease.
Forbes-ethics of genetic
For example, an embryo with phenyketonuria (a rare genetic disorder) only needs one gene corrected to develop into a healthy
This type of stuff is already being done, and few have a problem with it. It is genetic engineering, at a relatively low level.
But I am willing to go beyond this notion and take the position that a parent should be free to use whatever means they have to provide the best life
for their child.
A. It may be possible that a while down the road, children who are not genetically modified are in the extreme minority or gone all together. This is
a notion that some feel is unacceptable, and the prospect of widespread genetic engineering should be eliminated by nipping the science in the bud.
Eliminating the science is not going to happen. For precisely the reasons of curing illness mentioned above, this science is being pursued and it
should be. Not only can we cure illness, but by examining ones DNA we may receive a much more intelligent health care. Fewer would die from allergic
reactions to medicine, people with various diseases may be able to curb the risks involved with their lifestyle. Diets can be personalized depending
on individual metabolism.
There is no doubt gene science provides a new world of possibilities for those seeking to maximize their health.
And why should it upset us that the people of the future may be genetically modified to live five times as long, be able to run a marathon without
getting winded, and have an IQ over 200? Might that be just the natural progression of intelligence in the universe? That nature builds a species to
the point where they can build themselves?
B. Another implication that I anticipate my opponent will seek to use against me, is the possibility of a genetic experiment gone wrong...some tweak
in the code that seems harmless but spreads and turns all of humanity into cyclops with four noses.
It's an interesting counter argument, but I don't think a worst case scenario should prevent us from exploring a new science or technology that can
benefit so many people. If it happens, it can likely be quarantined.
Sci-fi horror films have given genetics a bad reputation, it's a sad fact. The first association is deformed monsters or dystopia. The reality is that
studying genetics gives us a sophisticated understanding of how our biology works, the ability to treat illness at it's source, and potentially drive
our own evolution.
Before Sublimecraft has his opportunity to show us the evils of genetic engineering, let's first consider a fundamental value that we all claim to
One of the most prominent ideals in modern governance and sociology, we seek to build societies where individuals have the liberty to make their own
choices. They should be subservient to none but themselves, and not be subject to excess law that infringes on their liberty.
Within this concept, if a person wishes to genetically engineer their child they should have that choice.
In our society we see liberty being squeezed in many ways. Privacy is being challenged by surveillance. The trend of arms control threatens the right
to own a gun. We must seek to counter this by working to expand freedom.
Doing so puts a lot of trust in the private sector. Capitalism has shown it's flaws, but has also proven to be an engine of progress and innovation.
Freedom is the backbone of our economic system. Demonizing individuals and practices is only enhancing the relative power of the few who control our
institutions and policy. This is a primary tactic used to increase power, inducing fear in the population. There are terrorists so we need
surveillance to keep you safe. There are risks in genetic engineering, so we need to withhold the technology to keep you safe.
All the while a few have access to the cameras and the splicing.
The Human Genome is fully sequenced. An individual's DNA can be analyzed in a short time. This technology exists and it is developing rapidly. By
officially disallowing it, we only cede more power to any who can circumvent the free market.
Genetic engineering is here to stay, and as it's applications expand it should be on the market for any who wish to use it's benefits.
The podium belongs to Sublimecraft.
edit on 12/13/12 by Hefficide because: MOD NOTE: Edited for BBcode error and no content alteration occurred.