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Challenge Match: PatrickGarrow17 vs. Sublimecraft: Should Parents Be Allowed To Genetically Engineer

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posted on Dec, 4 2012 @ 01:43 AM
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 Celera).

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.

For example, an embryo with phenyketonuria (a rare genetic disorder) only needs one gene corrected to develop into a healthy baby.
Forbes-ethics of genetic enhancement

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.

Some implications:

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 cherish:


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.

posted on Dec, 13 2012 @ 04:21 PM
Thank-you to the ATS community, the Moderators and PatrickGarrow17 for allowing me the opportunity to address this question.
For the purposes of health, my opponent will get no argument from me. Indeed advances in genetics has opened up opportunities to improve the quality of life for individuals and this has my blessing.

The ethics of parents genetically engineering their children
- this is the topic.

Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct

This is a philosophical debate. Should we or shouldn't we? If not, why not? If so, why?

I know of no parent that would not avail themselves of the opportunity to improve the quality of life for their unborn child so that he/she is born as healthy as is currently possible. Through the HGP (Human Genome Project) parents will get this opportunity.

That is the right thing to do.

Now, what is the wrong thing to do?

Departing from the fundamental reason for the HGP, that being health improvement, is highly likely and this is where the ethical dilemma plays out. Where do parents draw the line between health improvement and social expectations?

Can my opponent demonstrate that no parent will decide that they wish to explore "advantages" for their unborn child such as intelligence, sex preference or physical appearance.

Can my opponent demonstrate that genetic engineering of an unborn child to improve, say intelligence, will not result in an adverse consequential effect to the child or to society. Does the child get a say in any of this departure from health improvement and into the realm of "social benefits"?

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.

Within this concept, if a person wishes to sue their parents for genetically engineering them without their consent they should have that choice.

Now, I have discovered that this is just one aspect of genetic engineering that is discussed at length online. I am sure that laws will be put in place to address this concern.

Lets look at another aspect. Costs. Surely genetically engineering a child for health reasons will not be cheap and many families may go into significant debt to ensure their child is born healthy.

There will also be families where money is no object and they may wish to pursue the genetic modification of their unborn child to the nth degree.

Its one thing for a rich child to come to school with , for example, an iphone, effectively setting the bar for the rest of the kids to follow - this is happening now in many schools. As a parent this is frustrating for a myriad of reasons that I am certain I do not need to expand on for our readers here.

So, what will occur when a child goes to school that has a 200+ IQ, is physically stronger and more attractive than the rest of the children and is pretty much immune to all known diseases?

Its one thing to be classed as poor or rich or somewhere inbetween, but is human evolution to now be dictated by the amount of money one has in their bank account?

Poor or rich, the offspring from all social classes are currently born with defects, thus maintaining the balance of life as we know it.

If we start down this road by addressing the health concerns that all parents would like to see eliminated, where will the road end - will it end with Homo-superious - the next stage in human evolution, phased in by the most wealthy in society where the poor are left to procreate the old fashioned way, destined to be slaves in this brave new world?

Genetic engineering is in its infancy. In 50 years from now, eliminating health issues may be a mere by-product of what genetic engineering can offer. If we look at other technological advances in recent times, this trend is accurate.

What I see happening here is that in order to address the ethics of genetic engineering, the Government(s) will take a lead role in passing laws surrounding the limitations and extent of genetic engineering allowable and consequently overseeing that they are adhered to.

Between the wealthy being the main customers and the government being the overseers of genetic engineering, the middle and lower classes of society do not stand a chance. Evolution of our species should be allowed to take a course where artificial means are not governing its influence and by artificial I also include that of money, economics and anything else which has not played a part in our genetic development to date.
edit on 13-12-2012 by Sublimecraft because: emphasised debate topic using

posted on Dec, 27 2012 @ 02:08 AM
The winner of this debate, by forfeiture, is Sublimecraft!

Congratulations and thanks to both fighters!


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