The human cost of gene editing

I think that the 2016 National Geographic article titled “Pro and Con: Should Gene Editing Be Performed on Human Embryos?” provides to the most comprehensive view of the possible benefits and detriments of altering germlines. It is true that genetic editing could result in a massive amount of people avoiding serious illnesses and even death (Harris, page 1) and that if treated and regulated correctly it could function as an extension of our healthcare systems around the world (Harris, page 1). On this same subject, the 2016 National Geographic article titled “DNA Revolution” provides insight into the ability of genetic editing to provide already existing medicines at a much higher rate and ultimately make it more accessible and economically viable to those in need. One example that was provided was the use of pig organs in humans who need an organ transplant. Genetically altering these organs to omit the presence of certain viruses that are easily transmitted to humans could make them a viable prospect when considering organ transplantation, and could save many lives (Specter, page 3). The article also suggests that we could omit diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and zika around the world by genetically altering the mosquitos who carry it, and this would also save millions of lives (Specter, page 2).

 

I do not think that gene editing should be performed on humans for two main reasons; human populations would skyrocket as millions of people were living longer and producing more offspring and the social consequence of gene editing would entail as division amongst classes into haves and have-nots in an unprecedented fashion. If you believe in the Malthusian equation and its implications, the thought of genetically engineering humans should terrify you, as fewer people will die with the eradication of diseases and many more will be born with the ability to increase fertility. Also, genetic editing will be costly and will severely divide social classes beyond just economic situation because those who can afford genetic editing will surely live longer and healthier lives while those who cannot will be fated to suffer the diseases and illnesses that have plagued humans forever.

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