Genetic Engineering: How Far is Too Far?

Will we soon have a disease-free society?

embryo

My daddy requested me. He told me that he and my mother had a discussion and he did not want my brother to be the baby of the family; he wanted a little girl. Needless to say, that was a tall order because in 1964 to 1965, science was not prepared to provide a specific gender for babies. In my parents’ case, I was born in 1965 through lots of prayers. My mother was 45 and immediately went into menopause after my birth, and my dad was 47; however, my father got his wish.

Recently, I read an article titled “Scientists Edit Human Embryo: This is Why Designer Babies Are a Ways Off” (livescience.com, 2017). Within the first paragraph of the article, the writer, Jessica Berg states that in Portland Oregon scientists “modified the genetic material of a human embryo.” In layman’s terms, scientists have corrected some mistakes in the genetic makeup of humans. For example, if there is a family history of Sickle Cell Anemia, scientists can target that part of the genome and modify it so┬áthat disease in the family history will be eradicated in an embryo – the infant will no longer carry the gene.

This is almost surreal, isn’t it?

So, is this an ethical issue, or is it a blessing in disguise?

The article by Berg, who is a law professor and a professor of Bioethics and Public Health at Case Western Reserve University, continues to report that in Oregon, scientists did not create a way to have “designer babies.” The embryos were used outside of the womb and did not develop. There is a federal ban to implant modified embryos in the womb – which leads to another question: What is the end result of conducting these experiments on embryos? They (Federal bureaucrats and ethical policies) assure the public that they are a long way off from engineer babies to be highly intelligent, athletic, artistic, or a “superhuman.” The federal government is allowing science to look at curing various diseases and disorders.

I teach the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in my Pre-AP English class, and I pose the question to my students about how far do we go? There have been numerous articles about genetic engineering and how families have babies to help their sick children. We have seen how stem cell research help a lot of sick people, in fact, I have a cousin in Texas who suffers from Myeloma and has been treated using stem cell research. Yet, the current article is asking if we are getting closer and closer to that Victor Frankenstein syndrome to design a human the way we want? They have cloned a sheep and we argued that soon our dead relatives will be able to be cloned and live again.

I am not sure what’s going on in research labs, and they (those people in the labs and the federal people) probably don’t want to tell us what’s really happening in the labs, but I am sure somewhere, there is are scientists who are curious about creating a human who does not have any type of disease, is highly intelligent, and is right and left brained. I am not sure where this research is going…but it will go far. The research will pass the limitations of ethics – I am sure of that. It is eons from my daddy’s request and prayer for a little girl to be the baby of the family.

Shelley’s novel from 1817 was just fiction. It was the first science fiction piece written by a woman (which was science fiction in its own right). Shelley probably never realized that three centuries later, we would actually touch the surface of quasi-creating humans to perfect the lives of others. Are we playing God? I’m using “we” because the public knows that these researches and experiments are happening; or, are we being obedient to the gifts God has bestowed upon us to develop cures for these diseases?

My belief is that God gives men and women the intelligence and will to help cure the sick. I do believe that. God gives wisdom. Does he limit the wisdom? I’m not sure. How far will this go? I don’t know either. All I know is that I am here because of my parents, who believed in God almighty and fervently in prayer, had me naturally. I’m not super intelligent, athletic, artistic, or free from diseases, but I’m here.

The reality is in this case, art is not imitating life; life is imitating art.

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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