posts 1 - 15 of 24
Ms. Bowles
US
Posts: 20

Questions to Consider:


Please use the questions as a guide for your post in addition to what you have learned from your ‘Dinner Table Debate” about the topic. You craft your LTQ post from your own personal position. You do not need to represent the side that you were assigned for the debate (although you can if you would like). You can choose to focus on two of the question sets, or to incorporate several of them into your response. Please be sure to include a response to question set 1 though.


1. Is voluntary eugenics, or the choice to alter the genetic makeup of offspring, immoral? Is it a matter of reproductive freedom or is it unethical interference in the process of life? Do the risks outweigh the benefits?


2. Even if technologies like CRISPR have benefits, does our history with eugenic policies over the last hundred years demonstrate humanity’s inability to use these technologies ethically? Can we ensure that these technologies don’t become a ‘slippery slope’ to something more sinister?


3. In addition to decreasing natural human variation, do gene editing technologies have the potential to lead to greater inequity in society because of the wealthy’s access to this technology? Does it increase social divisions?


4. Given that other, less democratic nations have access to gene-editing technologies is it irresponsible for more democratic nations to ban these technologies? Should governments ensure that individuals have the reproductive freedom to use these as they see fit?


Word Count Requirement: 500-750 words


Sources to Reference:


Please refer to the ideas, either using a quote or paraphrasing, from at least two of the sources in your response. You should also refer directly to your peers’ projects on the impact of race ‘science’ on US laws and policies.


Perspectives on gene editing (Harvard Gazette)


Fact Sheets about Genomics (National Institutes of Health)


What is immoral about eugenics? (National Library of Medicine)


The Dark Side of CRISPR (Scientific American)


Designer Babies Aren’t Futuristic…(MIT Technology Review)


The New Eugenics: Better than the Old (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)



Rubric to Review: LTQ Rubric

cbgb1946
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Gene Editing Technologies: The Detrimental Effect That They Have On Society.

Voluntary Eugenics, or the choice to alter the genetic makeup of an offspring, can grow to the point where it becomes immoral, but it can be used for beneficial purposes. Gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR, can be put to a positive use, like when an individual has a genetic difference that could cause life threatening medical complications. However, people have the potential to take advantage of these gene editing technologies, and can use them to curate the “perfect offspring,” that they wish to have. In the article, “The Dark Side of CRISPR,” by Sandy Sufian, and Rosemarie Garland-Thompson, the human desire for a perfect offspring is expanded on, reasoning how CRISPR can be malignant to society. “We are whole beings, with our genetic conditions forming a fundamental part of who we are. Still, many Americans—including medical providers and even some people with genetic differences—consider lives such as ours as not worth living as they are.” Technologies can eliminate genetic variation within a human population. Even though CRISPR can eliminate life threatening, and life changing, illnesses, and diseases, it is commonly used as a way to justify that certain lives are “not worth living as they are.” CRISPR can be used for beneficial reasons, but ultimately people will take the technology too far, and promote taking risks within coding the perfect genetics for an individual’s offspring.

Individuals value the “perfect offspring” to an enormously high standard, disregarding the potential genetic mutations that these gene editing technologies can produce. In the article “Perspective On Gene Editing” by The Harvard Gazette, genetic changes within the human genome are highlighted, displaying how they can be detrimental to an offspring’s health, accompanied by the unknown cause of the mutation. In our Dinner Table Debate, points were brought up that the positives outweigh the negatives, for genes that could be even more detrimental to an individual’s health could be eliminated, even if another mutation, that is not as bad as the original one, occurs. Ideas were also mentioned that since these gene editing technologies were being administered by medical professionals, there would be a smaller chance that these gene editing technologies would be used in ways that were “unethical.” Even though medical providers are supposed to be figured of good morals, and good intentions, I believe that everyone has the ability to use these gene editing technologies in ways that are “unethical.”

The use of gene editing technologies can create greater wealth gaps in society, for only the wealthy members of society are, truly, able to have access to these gene editing technologies. In the article “What Is Immoral About Eugenics?” by The National Library of Medicine, the fact that individuals who can afford to have these genetically curated offspring are of the extremely wealthy people of society is highlighted, pointing out the disadvantages that these gene editing technologies provide to wealth gaps. “Allowing parental choice about the genetic makeup of their children may lead to the creation of a genetic ‘overclass’ with unfair advantages over those who parents did not or could not afford to endow them with the right biological dispositions and traits. Or it may lead to homogenisation in society where diversity and difference disappear in a rush to produce only perfect people, leaving anyone with the slightest disability or deficiency at a distinct disadvantage. Equity and fairness are certainly important concepts in societies that are committed to the equality of opportunity for all. However, a belief that everyone deserves a fair chance may mean that society must do what it can to insure that the means to implementing eugenic choices are available to all who desire them.” The extremely high expenses of these gene editing technologies can contribute to an equity gap, within society. Many people argue that everyone in society deserves a fair chance at reproduction, and that no third party influences should be taken into account. However, since these eugenic choices are only available to the “socially elite,” there is a larger equity gap between those who are editing genes to create a more “fit” offspring, and those who are having a natural, unedited, reproduction process.

souplover
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Immoral

Despite its advantages, the use of CRISPR is immoral. If the rich are the only ones who are able to access this technology and they choose to use it to make their children, lets say, smarter, what will happen? Those kids will not only have predisposed intellectual advantages, but access to better education and more resources. And so those kids will go on to prestigious universities and get high paying jobs. Regardless of how accurate or possible this is, the ideals of American capitalism are centered around the ability to rise from the lowest to the highest class. And the primary way to do that is education. If we take away access to high quality education from the poor, the whole idea of the system is wrecked.

Proponents of CRISPR will argue that we can enforce restrictions on its use: people could only be allowed to use this technology to eliminate disease. But even that is flawed: if the rich are the only ones able to access this technology and they choose to use it to make their children immune to disease, what will happen? The only people who suffer from sicknesses like cancer of Alzheimers will be the lower classes. Why is it fair for the rich to avoid sickness if the poor cannot? Laura Hercher, of the MIT Tech Review remarks, “What could change society more profoundly than to take genetic disease—something that has always epitomized our shared humanity—and turn it into something that only happens to some people?” If we are only interested in saving the lives of the rich, what does that say about how we value different people in society? Just because someone is poor, doesn’t mean that their life is worth less.

As for the question of reproductive freedom: is the right to genetically modify your child included under this umbrella? Reproductive rights include access to contraception, prenatal care, and safe birth: CRISPR is in no way similar to these. Take abortion rights: with abortion rights, you’re being allowed the freedom to decide what to do with your own body. With CRISPR, you’re deciding what to do with another person’s body. In fact, if this technology is accessible to some and not others, this could even be thought of as a violation of reproductive rights. Hercher also says: “Language barriers can reduce awareness and referrals. Geography also plays a role, since IVF clinics cluster in areas of greatest demand.”

Whether or not it is true, the U.S. likes to view itself as the leader of the free world and the moral compass for the globe; Therefore, why are we going to stoop to the height of less democratic nations? Are we going to risk changing humans and society because we’re afraid of a possibility? Think of a world where it’s common for CRISPR to be legal in many nations. The places that have legalized CRISPR are going to produce people with “better” genes and of course these people and these nations are going to be well off. In our society it would be easy to view people from these nations as being genetically better. The Chinese Exclusion Act and other laws that discriminated against immigrants from specific places were justified with racism. People said that Western and Northern Europeans had superior genes and were therefore more desirable in the U.S. Legalization of CRISPR in the U.S. would set a precedent for other countries and from then on it’s a slippery slope to repeating history. And in addition to immigration, racism and genetics were used in justifying the annexations of places like Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. White America believed that the indigenous people of these places were genetically less intelligent and thus thought that taking over their countries would benefit them.

buttercup
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

LTQ 4

Voluntary eugenics is not inherently immoral. I believe it is reproductive freedom. Modern eugenics (genetic engineering) is different from old eugenics, so we are not repeating past mistakes. Old eugenics was a public issue that was forced onto everyone by the government (sterilization, immigration, education, etc) but in today's world, it is a reproductive freedom and everyone has the right to choose certain criteria to improve their own offspring. This is what sets it apart from and makes it better than old eugenics. I support modern eugenics (medical genetic engineering) that is done for the purpose of eliminating genes that cause untreatable/incurable illnesses. This includes genes that make one more likely to develop cleft lip/palate, cancer, or cystic fibrosis. Genetic engineering would relieve public/individual health burden because it would eliminate the need for expensive treatments, therapies, and medications. Any health condition that negatively affects one’s quality of life ought to be improved by the healthcare system, and genetic engineering is a valuable tool for this. Although some do not realize it, we already practice private eugenics by choosing marriage partners based on personal criteria (ex. height, weight, race), so how is the modification of embryos any different? Embryos are not living people and they have no consciousness, so I do not think the loss of an embryo for myself would be a huge burden to my conscience.


But, as said in “The Dark Side of CRISPR,” disabled people are worried that the “use of these “genetic scissors” will, in the future, cut people like us out of existence without others even noticing.” The altering of human embryos for the sake of selecting better traits and eliminating fetuses that would be born with “bad” traits, such as being disabled or neurodivergent, is common in both old and new eugenics. But are these “bad” traits really bad? In many cases, people with disabilities do not see their condition as negative, because “bad” genes do not mean a person is going to have a bad life. It means that they experience and see the world differently than abled/neurotypical people do. For example, people with autism can be geniuses/unconventional thinkers, which is what society needs. (We need those non-conformists!!) But since everyone’s view of “good” and “bad” traits is different, human diversity would not be threatened. Genetic engineering might actually increase variation because people prioritize different genes/abilities.


I do not think that these technologies will become a slippery slope for us repeating our past mistakes. We are not extremists that seek to eradicate “inferior” human races. Modern eugenics is backed by 21st century science/logic, it is not like the old eugenics that was backed by race science and propaganda of the wealthy, white elite. As said in the Harvard Gazette’s “Perspectives on Gene Editing,” the scientific community “uses peer review, public censure, promotions, university affiliations, and funding to regulate themselves. In China, in Dr. He’s case, you have someone who’s (allegedly) broken national law and scientific conventions. That doesn’t mean you should halt research being done by everyone who’s law-abiding.” I agree with this because we are responsible enough to use this technology carefully. As long as it is not weaponized by extremists/politicians against other nations/groups, then there is little reason why individuals should not be allowed to use genetic engineering. It is a reproductive right, just like abortion. As brought up in my Dinner Table Debate, if we were to ban gene-editing technologies in the US, people are still going to try to access it illegally, which is significantly more dangerous, so we ought to just regulate the usage of this option.


When souplover’s reflection said “... if the rich are the only ones able to access this technology and they choose to use it to make their children immune to disease, what will happen? The only people who suffer from sicknesses like cancer of Alzheimers will be the lower classes. Why is it fair for the rich to avoid sickness if the poor cannot?” I was urged to reconsider my opinion. But then I realized, we already live in a world that tolerates so much inequity that it really is not more ethically problematic to use biological advantages when there are already social and economic advantages that children have based on their race, sexuality, or their family’s socioeconomic status. We force our children into tutoring, our choice of school, hobbies, religion, and sports, so it is no less ethical to, say, pick their eye color or make them more skilled at maths.


Overall, this discussion about modern day eugenics was really eye-opening and made me do some self-introspection. This problem cannot easily be solved, as there are issues of inaccessibility, good vs bad, and understanding of the technology, among many others. I do believe we will eventually be able to make gene-editing technology accessible and safe for everyone who wants to use it. I also respect people who believe that genetic engineering is immoral, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the right to reproductive choice/freedom.

pigeondrivesabus
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Throughout history, eugenics have been used in a malicious way, from harming people of color, discriminating against immigrants, and more. However, with the new CRISPR technology, our society has begun to ask the question of whether or not these technologies of “new eugenics” can accelerate to a point where they are getting out of hand, and if our society would use them in a way that will pull us back to the past.

The new technologies have flaws, however the right for everyone to have a chance to have a child in a relationship that makes them happy is essential. CRISPR prevents transmission of genetic disorders, and this ultimately reduces the prevalence of these diseases s children continue to reproduce. CRISPR can be used “to edit the gene by changing the DNA from the harmful variant to a healthy variant” which could “prevent or cure a genetic disease.” Through technology like this, children will be less prone to diseases and parents will not have the overbearing medical costs of a child with a genetic disease, especially when many parents cannot afford them. Families will no longer have to watch their children suffer as “the technology offers the hope of editing cruel mutations out of the gene pool.”

A hundred years ago, there were not regulations surrounding eugenic policies, but now, there are medical ethical codes and guidelines around CRISPR. Families are vetted befre they are given access to CRISPR, and people are also educated on it. Moreover, they are educated on everything that happenedregarding eugenics and how harmful and prevalent those effects are today. As a society, we have improved socially and politically, and the younger generations are becoming more aware of governmental power and how they try to control the youth.

CRISPR is something that is not as accessible as it should be, and that provides a barrier to families who would like to have a child but would otherwise be unable to. For example, in vitro fertilization costs around eleven thousand to twelve thousand dollars, and most families in America do not even have that much money in their bank accounts. It becomes something that only the wealthy can access. Through this, the government may misuse the technology and people who are not part of the upper class will fall further and further behind in status.

Furthermore, a concern that many have is that if the technology falls into the wrong hands, a country might use CRISPR to genetically modify babies in order to create a ‘perfect society.’ We have seen attempts to make ‘perfect’ socities before, such as the Holocaust, and this ultimately led to genocide and racism for centuries to come. Although many Americans would not admit this, something that we discussed at our dinner table debate was that the country who would use “new eugenics” to do something harmful would most likely be the United States. Our country is one of the most prejudiced countries, despite all that we are made out to be.

The use of gene altering codes will continuously render advancements, but it is ever so important that we remain educated and that we do not do anything bad with the technology.

cherrycola
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

The topic of “modern day eugenics” has always been a tough one. Are we reverting back to the way that things are before? Is our advancement in technology the reason that we will? With the introduction of CRISPR, we are able to modify the genes of our children, being able to prevent them from heinous diseases, but also change the way that they look, the way that they act, and the way that they are overall. This poses the question of whether or not doing so is moral, but that is something that I don’t think I will ever be able to answer.


Taking out genes that cause cancer, alzhemeirs, or any other harmful disease is one of the main usages of CRISPR. We are able to use this technology to save lives. We are able to prevent parents from grief that their child may not make it to 7. Even though this is a big benefit that CRISPR gives us, it is also the only benefit. But, even though it is the only benefit it is the idea that so many lives can be saved with this technology.


However, this is not the only thing that scientists can edit. We can edit the eye color of our child, how intelligent they are, their hair color, their sex. This is immoral. We are designing human lives to our own liking, and although we have the right to do so doesn’t make it moral. Additionally, this is a resource that may only benefit the rich. The price of CRISPR is unknown, but we do know that it will be expensive, and so there will be less access for those who do not have the luxury to afford something of that caliber. There is also the question of whether or not this will lead to inequity, and if the rich are designing their babies to their own liking, what about those who are leaving their offspring fully up to chance? There is this unfair advantage that comes up with the introduction of CRISPR, and although there is already social inequity in our society, there will continue to be social inequality. Why make things worse with science?


I do not think that eugenics and CRISPR are the same, they are two different things with two different goals. But, the modern day eugenics may arise because of this technology. But, at the same time, CRISPR is a choice. There has been no coercion on whether or not people should use it and those who do want to use CRISPR, if reasonable, should be allowed to. It’s difficult to determine whether or not we are capable of using it though. Human beings, although predictable, are extremely unpredictable as well. We can hope that such technology will not be misused but we do not know for sure if what happened in the past will not happen again in the future. Technology like this will be a slippery slope, it will be misused. But, if we ban it entirely, there is no guarantee that people won't still use it in other unsafe ways. It is something that we will never know until we try, but trying may lead to things worse than we could ever imagine.


Although we can view gene editing as immoral or moral, it is apparent that there are points for both sides that make it difficult for us to really come to a conclusion. One thing that we can conclude is that eugenics should not come back, and if CRISPR is a leading cause of eugenics making a comeback then it is best that we stay away from it. Although the world can use a lot of fixing this may not be the right way.

nicehair85
Posts: 11
The base idea of voluntary eugenics is not immoral because in theory, nothing could go wrong. There is no malintent or anything sinister about having a choice in that matter. It is a matter of reproductive freedom and can come with many benefits. These benefits range from immunity to certain afflictions to favorable attributes. However, it does become morally questionable when you look at the broader picture. While voluntary eugenic itself would not have any negative consequences, its place in our society may have some consequences. These consequences can include a larger disparity between the rich and poor as it would be yet another matter more accessible to the rich. It could lead to the ones who do partake in the voluntary eugenics becoming higher status than the ones who do not, further dividing the people into different classifications and levels on a hierarchy. These consequences would have come as a by product, not on purpose. This is because humans as a species are not the same as the ones from a century ago. Humans have come a long way, almost like evolving. This can be seen in protests and in the media. What is considered unethical or immoral would now be frowned upon by much of the world. More is being done to build a fair society for all people no matter what. This shows the maturity that would be needed for technology like CRISPR. It also shows the maturity to ensure policies such as the ones made for immigration, education, etc. never happen again. In order to add more safety nets, regulations could be set in place as have been done with so many things to ensure the responsible usage of CRISPR and such technologies. Going back to the social divisions it can create, the danger can be seen in the creation of the society such as the one in Brave New World. Certain variations of human can be seen as superior and lead to another division. There are already many issues in the world regarding divisions. These range from health care leaning to the rich to white people receiving more opportunities than non white people. In most aspects of the identity of someone, there is an inequality, whether it be in social or biological conditions. At this point in time, there is no real need for partaking in voluntary eugenics due to pressure from other nations because the effect takes time and the change is minor. However, as these technologies advance, there could be a possible problem with not partaking in voluntary eugenics. For example, the enemy of the USA could be able to use genetic modifcation in order to create superior soldiers. This would lead to the USA at a disadvantage and now has its safety compromised. So, while it is not irresponsible to ban these technologies currently, who knows what may happen in the future. It may even become necessary for being able to compete. This could be solved with further regulations that apply to multiple nations similar to the regulations in place for nuclear and biological weapons and even convention. Each government should also be held responsible to regulate it so that the individual is limited in what they can do. We are currently in a good direction when it comes to this as seen with China and the scientist who modified a pair of twins. He was imprisoned for three years for unethical practices.
asdfghjkl;'
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Questioning the Morals of New Eugenics

Voluntary eugenics, or the choice to alter the genetic makeup of offspring, is not immoral. Parents have the right to choose whether they want to genetically modify their children, meaning it is not forced. Due to this, it is up to the person whether to believe it is immoral or not. On top of this Richard Hamermesh, faculty co-chair of the Harvard Business School/Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator, said, “But anything where you’re going to be changing human embryos, it’s going to take a long time for us to figure out what is appropriate and what isn’t. That has to be done with great care in terms of ethics.” So, these advancements are developing with care, in order to not interfere with ethics. Given the choice, parents are able to benefit the health of their children. In other words, they are able to modify their genes to change diseases that might harm their lives. These diseases include HIV and AIDS, dystonia, cancers, and cystic fibrosis. Through these gene modifications, scientists are developing safe, effective ways to use gene editing to treat people who would inherit serious diseases with no known cures. Meaning these scientific achievements will have the potential to relieve suffering before they were to be born with it. In Laura Hercher’s article, “Designer babies aren’t futuristic. They’re already here.” it points out the idea of choice in this alteration of genetic makeup. The article gives a first hand perspective, a man named Matthew, who inherited a genetic mutation that caused dystonia. This is a condition where muscles contract uncontrollably. He did not want this to be passed down to his child for the pain it would cause him. The article states, “They weren’t choosing eye color or trying to boost their kid’s SAT score. They were looking out for the health and well-­being of their future child, as parents should.” Meaning it is not “immoral” to look out for the safety and well-being of your child. Another point, which was touched on prior, is whether this is a matter of reproductive freedom, or an unethical interference in the process of life. As mentioned, the parents have a choice as to whether or not they want to modify their child’s genes. If the parents believe it is in the best interest of their child to not inherit these genes then they are able to alter this. However, there are risks when it comes to altering the genetic makeup of offspring which need to be acknowledged before continuing with these changes. These are seen with regards to the past eugenics movement. This was taken too far where those with “bad” attributes would be sterilized, these were education policies, and anti-miscegenation. Along with this it could allow for an even larger wealth gap, where those who are not able to pay will have to live with diseases that others can alter out. There are also fears that, in the hands of the wrong people, this will become more than just a way to help people with genetically inherited diseases. It is inferred that this will lead to other attributions being taken away such as eye colors, or hair types. These are all true and relevant concerns, which can not be overlooked.Which is why altering the genetic makeup of offspring is only moral to a certain extent. It should not be up to the parent whether their child has attributions they consider “good.” This should not be taken advantage of, and only used to aid those whose health are in danger. As stated before, scientists are taking ethics into consideration while developing these advancements. . In the Harvard Gazette’s “Perspectives on Gene Editing” it states, “Society needs to figure out if we all want to do this, if this is good for society, and that takes time. If we do, we need to have guidelines first so that the people who do this work can proceed in a responsible way, with the right oversight and quality controls.” So, hopefully these advancements will not be taken advantage of. If they are not, many positives come out of this movement. This includes same sex couples and single parents having the ability to conceive a child, and the alteration of mutated genes lead to less children being harmed by life threatening diseases. People should have the choice in these matters.

behappy19
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

Imagine that you can actually design your own baby. What would you do first? Change the eyes from brown to blue and then change the skin color, the lips, and well before you know it your baby looks nothing like you. CRISPR technology gives parents the ability to change their child’s genetics, but the benefits do not outweigh the apparent costs.

Before people get excited about designing their own baby they should know that only the top 1% could afford this. The upper class as usual has more opportunities than the rest of the population. The article, “Perspectives on Gene Editing” from the Harvard Gazette states, “For families who have watched their children suffer from devastating genetic diseases, the technology offers the hope of editing cruel mutations out of the gene pool. For those living in poverty, it is yet another way for the privileged to vault ahead.” Why should the rich only have access to technology that could cure terminal diseases? They already have access to high end medical care while the rest of us are stuck waiting at the ER for at least 9 hours. CRISPR, like most hospitals, is solely a business and does not care about the wellbeing of its patients. The only reason the technology was made was to take money from rich people who have nothing better to do with their money, I mean they are already going to space, why not design their baby too.

Can our society even be trusted to use this technology responsibly? The answer is a definite no. The ideas of many may be more progressive, but the evils of society are still the same. Roe V. Wade was overturned in the 21st century which is just unbelievable. If this was overturned what will occur with CRISPR I mean how can people trust the government to give them complete control over their bodies. The article, “The Dark Side of CRISPR” from Scientific American states, “This attitude, in fact, would be consistent with wider societal views. The idea that ridding society of genetic differences that count as disease or defect is an undeniable “good” continues to be pervasive in our society.” Who gets to decide what genes are better than others? These questions are synonymous with those of the Eugenics Movement which poses a problem. Genes are not meant to be edited because everyone is perfect the way they are. The Eugenics Movement escalated in the 20th century and contributed to one of the worst genocides in history, the Holocaust. Knowing what we do now, it is clear that people can not be trusted to use this technology ethically.

Finally, this technology would stunt the medical treatments being developed. If there are less and less people with cystic fibrosis why develop new treatments for it. This is very dangerous and society can fall behind in terms of medical care which is pertinent to survival. If the global pandemic wasn’t warning enough that vaccines and new medicines need to be researched then I don’t know what is. An excerpt from “The Dark Side of CRISPR” from Scientific American states, “When Sandy was born in 1967, people with CF had an average life expectancy of 15, but during 1970–1990, life expectancy doubled due to new medical therapies. Today’s average life expectancy is 44, but with novel medicines called cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulators, people with CF are expected to live even longer with fewer hospitalizations.” CRISPR would not have led to new treatments being made for those with cystic fibrosis, but it would try to prevent it completely leaving those who already have the disease to fend for themselves. Before celebrities like the Kardashians start curating their perfect kid this technology needs to be stopped.

リーパー
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

New Eugenics, better than the old?

The choice of modifying offspring is not immoral in and of itself if it is not forced by some greater power. Just as someone should be able to choose whether or not to undergo an abortion when they learn they are pregnant, so should it be one's choice to decide whether or not their child has the potential for a perfect SAT score or whatever they feel is appropriate. We are far beyond the boundary of not modifying nature because it is immoral. Many species all around the world have been forcibly bred in specific ways to ensure offspring that boasts one trait that we consider useful above others, and besides, genetic engineering is, in most ways, more accurate than domestication. Thus, in spite of potential side effects or consequences, we should allow for the public to choose whether or not they use this technology.

Our past with eugenics policies is certainly problematic in our management of these kinds of developments, but they do not ultimately define us. We can learn from our mistakes, and while perhaps being able to engineer a type of superhuman may sound scary, one must realize that there are many traits that make up a human, and it isn’t exactly easy to identify the enhancement or reduction of which traits would make a “perfect” human. We simply do not know enough at the present moment. Besides, it is commonly acknowledged in society that we should not compare ourselves directly to others to define our success. If some other human performs extraordinarily well, it doesn’t mean that there is no use for the others. Even in the present day, without many genetically engineered humans, we can recognize that everyone comes from a different starting point, which may indirectly affect how much they are able to accomplish in the span of one human life.

The wealthy may have greater access to gene modification technologies, but it does not spell doom for those who are incapable of affording the same. We cannot affirm that the modification of certain genes will guarantee success in life, and even if it hypothetically did. What would it matter? Many of the children of the richest people in the world today do not need to be “perfect” humans with regards to their intelligence or strength. They inherited all they could ever need from their parents. Furthermore, as for medical applications, the technology will likely eventually become cheaper over time.

If less democratic nations allow for their citizens to access gene editing technologies and leave it up to them to decide whether or not to use it, then surely it is wrong for us, “more democratic” countries :| , to deny them that right. The entire design of a democracy is to benefit the people, more specifically, serve the people. If some establishment or group were to stop the citizens from exercising their right to have control over their own bodies or the ability to give their child a better chance in life, wouldn’t that be more like a dictatorship of sorts? Doubtless, if such restrictions were in place, the corruption of power would certainly bring about contradictions in which the powerful condemn gene editing but use it all the time, and the less fortunate, be it 95% of the population, are arrested for doing the same.

Bingus_the_cat
US
Posts: 10

New Eugenics and Society

As humanity progresses into the future, gene editing technology will become more and more available to the general public. While many people could see this as a positive, I see it as a net negative. The entire idea of editing one's genes is unfair as it gives you an unnatural advantage. While I am not advocating for people with genetic diseases to just ‘live with it’, I do feel as though the gene editing technology will cause so many things to go into gray areas where it would simply just overcomplicate everything. For instance, it could cause people with genetic disabilities to feel somewhat cheated out of a life that is seen as more ‘correct’. Another problem is the fact that it will begin to take away from the diversity of humans. If everyone has this standard of genes that people follow, the diversity of humans greatly diminishes. Not to mention that if anything goes wrong, the genes would be most likely passed down to another generation of people who would have no clue of what genetic problem they are inheriting that was not present for any generation before them. “This may affect every cell, which means it has an impact not only on the person who may result, but possibly on his or her descendants” If this truly happens or even has a slight chance of happening, it could cause doom for humanity. Humans also have a slight tendency to make a situation much worse. Many people thought that facism could never return, yet ‘The Wave’ experiment showed that it could come back. I feel that it is incredibly easy for humanity to return to old eugenic policies as they are seen as ‘good’ for humanity. If we could cure any genetic disease, what's to say that humanity would decide to make everyone stronger than average, or have a stronger brain? When it comes to decisions that come down to changing humans and society, humanity cannot be trusted. Not to mention the fact that the rich and powerful literally have access to this technology right now and the general public does not. Can we really ensure that the general public will get access before the people of the highest social classes gain a physical and mental advantage? It will most likely increase social divisions as many powerful people who know that rules do not apply to them will have their babies genetically modified so they have some sort of advantage. The sheer fact that you can increase someone's lifespan with something that only the rich can afford proves how unequal this treatment really is, and how it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. “The initially projected cost for the Human Genome Project was $3 billion”. While other less democratic countries have begun to introduce gene editing, or at least beginning to use it on people, more democratic countries have not. I believe this to be a sign that the general people do not want it. If the people really had a need for it, they would elect officials that would try to accelerate the technology's introduction to the general population. Overall, genetic modification not only is a dangerous option for humanity, but also can quickly lead back to old school eugenics.

blotitout
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

LTQ Question 4

While the practice of voluntary eugenics in itself may not be inherently immoral, the concept is highly problematic because it has such a high capacity to be used in morally questionable ways. Part of the issue is that different people will have different motivations for editing the genetics of their offspring. Many of the moral conflicts of gene editing largely depend on the genetic alterations people choose to make and the intent behind those alterations. Gene editing can either be used to deal with legitimate medical issues which stem from a person’s genetic makeup, which is widely considered to be ethical, or it can be used to enhance which is considered unethical because it unfairly gives people distinct advantages over others. The application of genetic editing for the purpose of treating disease should be looked at differently in comparison to genetic enhancement because its use has much less potential to create inequality. According to an article in the MIT Technology review, "discomfort around designer babies has always had to do with the fact that it makes the playing field less level—taking existing inequities and turning them into something inborn". While resistance to genetic disease is still an advantage, it would be much less harmful to society if this type of genetic altering was the only one available to those who could afford it rather than full genetic enhancement, because it has much less potential to widen the gaps already present between economic classes. Many seem to disagree with human gene editing entirely, even to treat disease because it still contributes to societal inequalities, but I disagree with this view. A study published by the NIH states that "It is hard to argue in a world that currently tolerates so much inequity in the circumstances under which children are brought into being that there is something more offensive or more morally problematic about biological advantages as opposed to social and economic advantages". This sums up my view on the use of CRISPR, as I don't think that one group being given a slight biological edge over others in the form of a resistance to a genetic disease will have any noticeable effect on the present inequalities in society. This is because all of the inequity in today's society is due to social and economic factors, not biological ones.


I still have doubts about whether humanity is actually ready for this technology though. Although I'm in favor of genetic editing for the purpose of addressing genetic disease, I still think that there are many ethical conflicts that can arise with its use. People have different definitions of what constitutes "genetic disease". They may choose to, for example, change their children's genes in a way that ensures that they aren't born with some sort of condition like autism or downs syndrome. On top of that, it also ensures that their descendants will also not have these conditions. While not nearly as invasive and unethical as the process of forced sterilization some of my classmates wrote about in their websites, in both instances people are attempting to limit neurodiversity by cutting the genes that cause it out of the gene pool. But should people be allowed to make that call? Do we have the right to label these traits as bad and use that label as justification to essentially put an artificial limit on neurodiversity within our society?

bumblebeetuna
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

New Eugenics, Same Evils

Voluntary eugenics is immoral because it allows us to give biological realiziation to the prejudices and biases we have, which will only entrench racism and ableism and create hierarchies that are harder to break down. All of us have an idea of what we want our ideal offspring to look like which is influenced by what our families and society have told us is desirable. Sure, we can all agree that it’s better to lack disease, but for traits like deafness, down syndrome, and skin color, getting rid of them enforces the idea that certain identities (usually white and able-bodied) should be preserved. This is influenced by our past of eugenics where the government authorized the sterilization of many who were deaf, POC, or had genetically caused syndromes (like Down’s). There were schools specifically designed for those “not wanted” by the rest of society where they were given an unequal education that set them up for failure. Although voluntary eugenics wouldn’t directly negatively impact those born with those disabilities, it would indirectly segregate and pity them. Furthermore there are so many medical risks associated with voluntary eugenics, and we shouldn’t be violating the rights of future children by placing them in these risks’ path. For example, gene editing can result in mosaicism, where only some copies of a gene are altered. This happened to Lulu and nana, the twins edited by Chinese doctor, Dr. He. According to Hiran Misunuru in the article “We need to know what happened to CRISPR twins Lulu and Nana”, “some parts of their bodies may contain the specific edits He said he made, other parts may contain other edits he didn’t highlight, and yet other parts may contain no edits at all. This would mean that the purported benefit of He’s editing— HIV resistance—may not extend to the twins’ entire bodies, and they could still be fully vulnerable to HIV.” In addition to not being protected against HIV, Lulu and Nana face increased risks for cancer and heart disease, influenza and West Nile Viruses because other mutations may have occurred. With no scientific consensus on how mosaicism can be prevented, it is immoral for parents to gene edit their babies as they are putting them at risk for serious diseases.


Furthermore, gene editing technologies are immoral because they lead to greater social division. According to Laura Hercher, IVF on average costs $20,000. Gene editing, a much more complex process than IVF, will likely cost much more than that. And with shoddy insurance coverage of IVF, this means it is mostly the rich who have access to the technology. This means that while children of rich babies become healthier, stronger, and even smarter, babies born into poorer families will continue having diseases and “nonoptimal” genes. That would truly be an end to the myth of meritocracy; it would literally create biological advantages in the rich that place them at a headstart over the poor. Finally, gene editing should not be implemented because it is prone to capitalists who will use the technology unethically to make money. In the Harvard article, economists like Richard Hammermesh expressed how many companies are getting into the gene editing business because of the enormous profits it holds. This giddy eagerness is eerie and seems indicative that businessmen will convince scientists to create faulty, cheap technology, make a ton of money, and blame the resulting botched gene editing procedures on “accidents”. This isn’t just theory, as it’s happened with other lucrative areas of health like blood tests. Theranos was a company that claimed to sell blood tests at a record low cost. But turns out these tests were faulty, meaning they not only scammed people but told them the wrong information about their blood, which led to a lot of dangerous health situations. If that happened with gene editing, not only individuals, but whole bloodlines, could be messed up, which a jail sentence would not even remedy. Because of the susceptibility to corruption, the inequality it would entrench, and the medical risks it poses, voluntary eugenics should be roundly rejected by humanity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

In theory, voluntary eugenics is a completely harmless practice that could help save many lives and prevent unnecessary difficulties in the lives of many people who might otherwise struggle because of genetic conditions that are out of their control. There are many life-threatening or -hindering genetic conditions that could be easily prevented by using this technology, creating more healthy and happy humans. However, there are also many questions that still remain when it comes to this technology. First of all, where do we draw the line between a genetic disorder that needs to be erased for the sake of the health of the person, and just another harmless genetic trait that doesn’t affect a person enough for such drastic action to be taken? For example, there are many genetic conditions that many people would argue are difficult to live with and would be better to get rid of, but for many of those conditions, it is hard to tell if those people are truly at a disadvantage, or if modern society is simply not structured in a way that is accommodating to people with different genes than the average person. Another question that must be taken into consideration is whether this technology should be used purely for medical purposes or if parents should be allowed to alter their children’s genes in whatever way they choose to produce what they would consider the “perfect” child. In some ways, this is the parents’ decision, and it wouldn’t necessarily drastically decrease diversity in humans because everyone’s idea of what they want their child to be is different. However, we wouldn’t want everyone to be perfect, because then if everyone is perfect except for a select few whose parents couldn’t afford the procedure or chose not to participate, those people could be ridiculed for their lack of perfection. This is something that we as a society cannot afford, and should be taken seriously into consideration.

Like I said before, the medical uses of this technology are vast and incredibly useful. However, in the wrong hands, this could lead to a resurgence of a eugenics-type movement in a new light. It probably would not end up being race-based for the most part, but society would weed out the genes they considered to be unfit until they no longer existed. There may be no reason for these genes to be considered unfit other than the fact that they are just not viewed positively in the public eye for whatever reason, but nonetheless they will be systematically removed from humanity’s gene pool with almost no notice. People may not even realize that it is happening, or that they are participating in it, because they only have good intentions when deciding what genes they want their children to have, but it could turn into an evil machine where people have too much control over what genes are allowed into the next generation’s genes.

As of right now, this technology is very very very expensive. Not only that, but there is not a lot of reason that the price will drastically decrease anytime soon, considering that this technology is not exactly “necessary” most of the time, so price decreases will really only be needed in drastic situations. Otherwise, it is completely up to the parents whether or not to pay the money, which means for the foreseeable future it will only be accessible to wealthy people. This could create an even bigger divide in society, because wealthier people may begin to see themselves as superior and back it up with science because they will, in fact, have access to the most advantageous genes for today’s society.

I do believe that reproductive freedom is a very important right, and that should be protected to the fullest extent possible. However, in order to prevent all of the aforementioned consequences of voluntary eugenics, I also believe that regulations need to be placed on this technology to limit its uses, especially considering that in most cases it is not actually a necessary procedure and just a desire of the parents of a child. I am certain that this technology can be very beneficial to human society, but it also has possible consequences that must be kept in mind when creating regulations around it and lines must be drawn so that it is not taken too far and the mistakes of the Eugenics movement are not repeated.

coolcat16
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

New Eugenics: threat to all

Voluntary eugenics, although it has many benefits, poses more threats than advantages. CRISPR technology has the potential to remove dangerous and lethal genes from people such as cancer, sickle cell, cystic fibrosis, even deaf and blindness, plus many more “unwanted” genes. CRISPR technology is presented to seem like an amazing new technology that should only be used to remove particular genes, but it poses many questions; such as, “who decides what genes should be removed?”, and “How is this decided?” These questions that CRISPR poses seem like they're bringing us back in time into the Eugenics movement. In the article, “The Dark Side of CRISPR”, by Sandy Sufian and Rosemarie Garland-Thompson, tells us about the dangers that can surface from this new technology. “We have grave worries that the use of these “genetic scissors” will, in the future, cut people like us out of existence without others even noticing.” This fear that many people have is becoming a reality. There are 2 different types of CRISPR gene editing. One of them is germline editing, which affects all the organisms that a person may have. This means that a gene can be taken out of a parent, and they're offspring will have 0 chance of getting that gene that was taken out. This could lead to the complete eradication of some genes, which is very scary and unreal. Germline editing indirectly completes the goal of many past eugenicists. The goal was the complete eradication of certain genes, and with CRISPR that is now completely possible. Many people view their genetic differences as a gift and contribution to diversity, but scientists view these genetic cut outs as nothing more than a new and exciting discovery that should be tested and used. “Still, many Americans—including medical providers and even some people with genetic differences—consider lives such as ours as not worth living as they are.” This technology can be used to justify that certain lives are less worth living because of their genetic diversity. In the old Eugenics movement, some people's quality of life was judged on whether or not they had “bad” or “good” genes. CRISPR technology helps justify and enforce those old ways of thinking, and can make some people feel as though they're lives don't mean as much because of their genetic differences, of which they had no control over. As humans, our genetic diversity makes us who we are.

The editing of these genes is still experimental, and there are some instances where it caused more harm than good. For instance, the story of the first CRISPR babies, Lulu and Nana. In November of 2018, two twins were edited by scientist He Jinakui in the attempt of giving the girls resistance from the HIV gene. He Jinakui wasn't completely transparent in his research and what he did to the girls, and this ended up giving them more problems than solutions. It was studied that the edits made to the babies, made them vulnerable to things such as heart disease and cancer. Not only did these edits expose the girls to this, but with further research, scientists discovered that the girls weren’t even protected from HIV, and that there wasn't any indication before the editing that they would have even been passed down these genes from their father. It is also a fact that many people live long, healthy and full lives with HIV. With the new medical advancements now and days, they could have had completely normal lives if they were safe and educated. Now they have the potential of other lethal genes that could be passed down to their children. For this mess up, He Jinakui was imprisoned and his medical license was taken away, as well as being fined 3 million dollars. Although immediate action was taken to tighten the reins on the new technology, it is scary to know that a scientist could potentially do this again. This brings us to the question of how other non democratic countries will use this technology. CRISPR has so many possibilities, and it can end up producing literal perfect offspring. Different countries have different regulations, and it can pose a threat and possible war.

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