In 2015 the first genetically engineered babies graduated high school. These thirty babies were essentially guinea pigs of cytoplasmic transfer, which gave them all three parents (two mothers and one father). After they were conceived, the FDA made genetic modification illegal because the effects were unknown and its ethics are questionable, but now the FDA is testing genetic engineering and working to make it a reality. The ethics of genetic engineering in humans is still widely debated, which raises the question of whether or not it should be legal.
My first source is an article on Inquistier, a news blog. It goes over the thirty babies who were genetically engineered and the possible but unknown repercussions of releasing modified genes into the gene pool. No one knows the ramifications this experiment could have on those thirty or their offspring, but it’s theorized that if two of the subjects reproduced with each other the risk of that offspring to develop complications is greater (Pratt, 2014). This article didn’t argue for or against genetic engineering, instead it made the point that modified genes have been introduced into the gene pool, and no one knows how that will impact all of us in the future. My doubting response to the author would be that he talks about very vague reports and follow-ups about the thirty genetically modified humans, but does not offer a link or source reference. My believing response to this author would be that the unknown effects of this genetic modification experiment are scary, yet I’m intrigued to see where genetic modification goes and what uses it can have.
My next article is on Popular Mechanics, a science and technology news blog. This article discussed the background of genetic engineering and its different methods. It explains that CRISPR is what is actually genetic modification, where a protein injection eats out a selected genome, so it can be replaced with a new one. PDG is genetic selection, where couples can pick traits of their baby while fertilizing eggs in a fertility lab (Benett, 2017). This article makes the main point that genetic modification is a new and exciting reality, and through PDG and CRISPR we have the potential to erase the existence of genetically inherited diseases. My doubting response to this article is that it entirely leaves out any mention of an ethical controversy, probably because it was in part a pitch for an HBO interview that aired on this subject. My believing response to this author is that he did an extraordinary job explaining the two different types of genetic modifications and the differences between them without using jargon. This article pointed out to me the huge potential benefits of genetic modification, like ridding of genetic diseases (imagine if we could eliminate the Alzheimer’s gene). For this reason, I am considering that the answer to my question may be yes, that genetic modification should be legal.
My last article was the blog of the first man who tried editing his own genes using CRISPR, Josiah Zayner. He gave his first-hand account about his home experiment, where Zayner bought the materials for the procedure online and performed the procedure at his own home. Zayner used CRISPR to extract the gene that prohibits muscle growth, assumingly for cosmetic reasons (Zayner, 2017). He argued for a very pro genetic modification world, and complained that we are not already there. My doubting response to him would be that Zayner performed an irreversible procedure on himself without knowing the effects it would have and is recommending it to others. My believing response would be that it seems Zayner wants to encourage technological and scientific breakthroughs. After reading this article my thinking changed because I now think that another reason for legalization of genetic engineering would be to regulate its uses so people can’t experiment on themselves.
The current answer to my question is that genetic modification should be legal because of possibilities to control the practice and to eliminate genetic diseases.
Bennett, Jay. “Genetic Engineering Now Allows Parents to Select the Gender and Eye Color of Their Children.” Popular Mechanics, Popular Mechanics, 14 Nov. 2017.
Pratt, Essel. “First Genetically Modified Babies Will Graduate High School In 2015.” The Inquisitr, The Inquisitr, 29 Sept. 2014.
Zayner, Josiah. “The First Attempt At Human CRISPR Gene Editing.” Science, Art, Beauty, 13 Oct. 2017.