Pig Guts and Perfect Babies

I wanna talk about organs. Gene editing has an insanely fantastic potential in medicine but the purifying of organs from animals like pigs to serve as transplants for humans stood out to me as just being really spectacular. Specter talks about this and brings up how “until recently, nobody has been able to rid the pig of its retroviruses” (Specter. P.3). This was shocking purely because I was unaware that such biological obstacles prevented the use of pig organs as transplants. By splicing the PERVs out of the pig genome (sounded really bad for some reason, I apologize), scientists can open up a whole new world in modern medicine regarding the use of animal organs as substitutes for human ones. This is a major breakthrough in medicine because it could potentially save the lives of countless people on waiting lists for organ transplants and another human being does not have to die in order for one of these people to have a chance to survive. I don’t know about you guys, but that is absolutely exhilarating. I don’t really see what could be terrifying about this breakthrough other than the possession of such technology itself which is certainly a little daunting, but I gathered from the readings that little is known with regards to potential shortcomings or negative outcomes of gene editing in medicine. One hundred percent bring on gene editing for this purpose.

This particular topic is difficult for me to take a definite side on for several reasons. Primarily, I experience the stereotypical clash between the super fantastic advancement of science and modern technology and the obvious ethical issues with genetically modifying an actual human person. After some consideration, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, gene editing should be done on humans in some circumstances, but it should probably be on a case-by-case basis. I definitely see the beautiful potential in medical applications of gene editing, to help stop the spread of disease or delete a bad gene from a line all together. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure more babies are born healthy. The issue I have is with the “designer baby” idea where one can enhance certain traits in their offspring and then that individual goes through life as the product of gene editing. This has always seemed terribly unethical to me but I have to admit, these readings made me unsure exactly why. Harris says it best when he talks about an argument regarding nature resting “on the premise that nature is inherently good” (Harris, paragraph 3). I guess my current thoughts on genetically modifying your child would be do it if you want to, I probably wouldn’t do it with my own children (maybe for health purposes but not for desired traits) because I value a person’s individuality as something they own by chance, not because their parents picked it out.


1 thought on “Pig Guts and Perfect Babies”

  1. I enjoyed reading your response very much. However I have to disagree with you when it comes to editing genes in human beings. I also read your response on Darwin’s readings and it seems that you also have an appreciation for natural selection. I believe that natural selection should be allowed to run its course in the human species. It is tragic and horrible that some babies are born with defects, but this has always been the case. If we genetically engineer humans to be born with near perfect health then it will eliminate a natural way for nature to eliminate weaker creatures. It would also effect the population as presumably the infant mortality rate would shrink and life expectancy in general would grow. This could lead to food shortages, overturned infrastructure, more strain on the water supply, and simply more people that would exasperate the current problems. However the biggest problem I have with engineering humans weather it be simply for health or for preferable traits is whom this tech will be available to. I am a die hard free market capitalist and I cannot imagine this tech being available to the masses of people. I imagine this to be an expensive luxury available to a select few and while that is all good and well with cars, yachts, and real estate, it brings up a huge red flag when we are talking about designing children. Those genes will be passed down in perpetuity and it will give a certain caste of people an even greater edge against everyone else. Men would no longer be born equal with equal capacity for success. Some men and women would indeed be born “better” than others. This is a question I struggle with, but as of now I cannot see this as being a technology we should embrace for use in humans.

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