Fahad NaeemResearch and CompositionBeer R6B1/17/18 Research ProjectResearch Question: In what ways and to what effect can ethics and law influence the use of genetic modification on accelerated human evolution?Describe the influence of genetic modification on accelerated human evolutionI.
In order to understand the uses of genetic modification, one must know what genetic modification is and what methods are available for humans.The National Human Genome Research Institute defines genetic modification or genome editing as the process of editing an organism’s DNA in order to yield specific changes in the organism (Genome Editing 1). According to Alessandra Potenza of The Verge, a new gene editing tool called CRISPR Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is capable of cutting, editing and pasting parts of DNA in an organism’s genome with remarkable effectiveness and efficiency; a new industry standard (Potenza 1).Before the invention of CRISPR, IVF (in vitro fertilization) was the common method used for embryonic changes and prevention of hereditary conditions.
Scientists and researchers are quite confident in CRISPR’s ability to replace IVF as a treatment method in the future (Belluck 1).After conducting a clinical trial in 1990, cancer doctors and researchers concluded that TIL, or Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes, can be implanted into the human genome as a preventative measure for cancer due to its ability to fight cancer in living patients (Rosenberg 1).II. Genetic modification techniques can be used as treatment for hereditary conditions or to amplify and suppress specific traits.In an interview with CNN, CRISPR’s co-discoverer Emmanuelle Charpentier, expressed her hopes of successful clinical trials in which CRISPR is used to cure hereditary diseases. (Howard 1)The National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health predict that CRISPR will be used as a prevention and treatment method of diseases caused by one gene mutation such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. They also predict that CRISPR will be used to treat and prevent more complicated conditions involving multiple genes such as cancer (Genome Editing 1)Genetic modification techniques like CRISPR can not only be used to fix problems but also amplify certain traits and suppress others.
Ronald M Green, a Yale University professor of Bioethics, predicts in his book Babies By Design that genetic modification tools will have uses such as creating children who have better eyesight, hearing, hearts lungs etc, by the choice of their parents (Green 173). While genetic modification can be used to give children simple gene enhancements, many such as Green predict that parents will develop deeper interest in their child’s performance and CRISPR will be a means of controlling this. CRISPR can then be used to create children who are far more athletic, intelligent and beautiful than other children if their parents choose to do so (Green 24).
Demonstrate how ethics and law can influence the use of genetic modification on accelerating human evolution.I. Case studies of current social responses to embryo use in science show that the use of embryos in genetic modification is gaining ethical rejection.
Like in the case of the abortion choice debate, some argue that genetic modification on embryos in unethical due to an inability to get the embryo’s consent. Other argues that changes made to an embryo is the choice of the parents or even specifically the mother. This polarity can largely impact how policy is made around such technology and even society’s view of those who choose to use it (Belluck 1).
Another issue resulting from genetic modification in human embryos is the matter of permission and authority. Green predicts that society will break into groups in response to this use as those who “view the human genome as a once and all perfect creation by God, and those who view it as the result of millions of years of evolution.”. The use of these technologies will therefore be limited as many people believe that human genome is a creation of God that should not be altered in any way (Green 218). Furthermore, religion once again can limit the use of the genetic modification.
The National Health Institute reported that the divide of the public in regards to using genetic modification on their own children is about 50-50. They also note that the people who said no, also reported a religious discrepancy with the practice and claim it “crosses the line” and it would be “meddling with nature” (Genome Editing 1)II. Ethical concerns from the possible misuse of genetic modification in sports shows the rejection of germline intervention.
Green also predicts that genetic modification can be used by parents of children to create children that are perfect athletes and future Olympians. This drive to win can breed harsh competition in the future, forcing the children of the future to dedicate themselves to such achievements (Green 22)The scientific community also predicts that genetic modification can be used for gene doping. Dominic Wells, a writer for the British Medical Journal says that as an alternative to simply doping with steroids and other performance enhancers, one can subject a child to a lifetime of intense amplified athletic ability, ruining the life of the child. (Wells 1)Wells also argues that in a future where one can be born athletic, the nature of sports as a whole will be altered. A child will be born for the purpose of winning athletic competitions but only because of choices their parents have made for them, therefore removing the entire competitive nature of sports entirely (Wells 2).
III. The ability of genetic modification to alter specific traits in humans shows ethical concerns regarding the availability and usage of genetic editing technology. Many argue that genetic modification can be dangerous due to its accessibility.
Scientists predict that germline intervention will be quite expensive and the issue of privilege comes into question. Will the world be full of the children of aristocrats who are more capable than all other people? It is possible that the price tag of the technology can mean a world in which rich people choose to amplify their own qualities (race, eye color etc.) onto their children and therefore used a means of eugenics (Green 138).
The ability of parents to pick and choose certain traits for their children is argued to be dangerous as it can destroy the loving relationship between a child and their parents. The parental love can be replaced by critical evaluation of a child’s ability, intelligence beauty etc. (Green 179).IV.
Policies and laws already in place show how the law can limit the use of genetic modification in humans. The NIH states that genetic modification is limited and unlikely in the United States due to laws such as the Dickey-Wicker amendment. This law prevents federal funding from being used in research that involves making or terminating an embryo (Genome Editing 1). In addition, federal laws circumvent the need of the FDA in genetic modification and appoint such treatment to be sent to the NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC). The NIH has then indicated that the RAC will not review requests involving genetic modification, therefore making the practice legally impossible (Dresser 1).
Works Cited PageBelluck, Pam. “In Breakthrough, Scientists Edit a Dangerous Mutation From Genes in Human Embryos.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/science/gene-editing-human-embryos.html.Dresser, Rebecca.
“Genetic Modification of Preimplantation Embryos: Toward Adequate Human Research Policies.” The Milbank Quarterly, Blackwell Publishing, Inc., Mar. 2004, www.ncbi.
nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690208/.”Genome Editing.” National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), www.genome.gov/27569222/genome-editing/.
Green, Ronald Michael. Babies by design: the ethics of genetic choice. Yale University Press, 2009.Howard, Jacqueline. “Report: Scientists edit human embryos for first time in US.” CNN, Cable News Network, 27 July 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/07/27/health/crispr-human-embryos-genome-editing-bn/index.
html.Potenza, Alessandra. “Gene-Editing tool CRISPR can now manipulate more types of genetic material.” The Verge, The Verge, 25 Oct. 2017, www.theverge.com/2017/10/25/16543004/crispr-cas13-rna-gene-editing-disease-treatment.
Rosenberg Steven “Gene Transfer into Humans – Immunotherapy of Patients with Advanced Melanoma, Using Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes Modified by Retroviral Gene Transduction — NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, 30 Aug. 1990, www.nejm.
org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199008303230904#t=article.Wells, Dominic. “Genetic engineering in athletes.
” British Medical Journal, vol. 337, 7 July 2008.Demonstration ParagraphThe ability of genetic modification to alter specific traits in humans shows ethical concerns regarding the availability and usage of genetic editing technology. Ronald M Green, a Bioethics professor from Yale University, describes a vision of the future in which parents are able to alter their children to any specific form that they want in his book “Babies by Design”. Green describes how modern day technology such as the the CRISPR Cas9 tool can be used to create designer babies (Green). In his book, Green looks at the numerous ethical issues surrounding the use of CRISPR in human genome editing (Green). The scientific community agrees on the ability of CRISPR to prevent and treat diseases and often compare it to IVF (Bullock 1).
The concerns about genetic modification largely focus on its possible misuse. Scientist have expressed that this type of treatment will be expensive and exclusive, making it available only for the rich, who can create super athletic children that are more intelligent than any other person (Green). This raises the concern of eugenics, as it is possible for the rich to breed children of their own kind and therefore amplify the population of their own race. Genetic modification accessibility also raises the concern of creating a population of people who are genetically superior to other humans, creating a divide in the human population (Green).
Furthermore, some argue that creating your child as a customizable character removes the entire meaning of being a parent. Many claim that given the option to pick and choose how their children are, will create a critical mindset in parents rather than one of unconditional love (Green). The lives of children who are genetically modified will be a lot different than our own today, as they might have been born simply to fight, run fast, or invent. This can force large amounts of pressure in these kids to succeed from not only their parents but from society as a whole (Green).