Brave New World- Imagination Or Forecast?

Being  inspired by the captivating, frightening and wearing out movie My sister’s keeper, as well as the story of Brave new world by Aldous Huxley, I decided to investigate the topic Genetic Engineering concerning human beings.

Just imagine

Assume a society where complete genetic engineering is possible.
Imagine that you and another person can go to a fertilization clinic and pay them for finding the combination of your genes that will minimize the probability of major diseases and disorders.
Pay them a little more, and they can remove high-risk factor genes entirely in your offspring and replace them with genes that minimize or eliminate the chances of any “prejudicial” conditions that you might have a tendency for: shortness, baldness, nearsightedness.Pay them even more, and you can request the substitution of custom tailored genes, so that regardless of the genetics of eitherparent you can request a certain hair color, a certain adult height, a certain level of intelligence, or even the enhancement of specific personality traits,          Greg Stevens invites you.
What would that society, in the long run, look like?
The movie Gattaca provides us with a detailed and fascinating picture of the resulting society:

For a comparison between movies’ forecasts and real facts, watch this table

What’s good and bad about GE in humans?

Pros
-prevention of diseases
-implanting healthy genes
– reparation of many degenerative diseases of old age like Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease.     (New York Times)
-increase in genetic diversity
– Gene therapy
-superior pharmaceutical products (e.g. bioengineered insulin)
-prenatal diagnosis
-creation of neo-organs for transplanation

Cons
-unpredictability of reactions and alterations
-potential effects can never be removed or reversed.
– mutations might be transferred to the next or future generations.
-disruption of Natural Genetic Information
-Selective eugenics and genetic discrimination will not be avoidable
-Animal experiments have to be done
-As Greenpeace states, Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non ‘GE’ environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.
Their release is ‘genetic pollution’ and is a major threat.
-As Pope John Paul II states,  if modern farming techniques don’t
reconcile themselves with the simple language of nature in a healthy
balance, the life of man will run ever greater risks, of which already
we are seeing worrying signs. (which he does not specify)
What do you think?
Is it ethical defensible to do stem cell work and to misuse animals by doing this?
Do you fear what will come next, respectively, what do you think will come next?

Let me know!

links

http://www.oe24.at/welt/EU-Gericht-Stammzellen-Forschung-beschraenkt/43632488

http://www.nationalpartnership.org/site/DocServer/FacesofGeneticDiscrimination.pdf?docID=971

http://federation-pro-europa-christiana.org/wordpress/?p=3254

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5 Comments

  1. tennisanika

     /  January 9, 2012

    From your post one can already tell a certain tendency, so I will try to focus more on the pros.
    Completely general speaking, everyone should be given the chance to live a healthy and happy life. What “healthy” means is pretty clear, no need to explain. But when it comes to “happy” this is where it starts to get complicated. For healthy people not being healthy would probably mean a certain level of unhappiness. But if we’d ask families in which children were born with disabilities (one thing that could be prevented by “genetic engineering”) I think, they would not consider themselves unhappy. They’d say that life is just sometimes a little bit more uncomfortable for them than for others (i.e. sitting in a wheelchair not being able to walk/run). So, it is an ethical question whether to allow such kind of researching or not.
    I mean, on the other hand one should be given the opportunity to live as happy as possible. And if this means that one is not up to raising a child that suffers a certain disability, parents could be given the opportunity to avoid being facing such a situation.
    But of course, I would not want any animals to be mistreated for research purposes. And also the idea of “creating” a baby, choosing your favorite hair color and preferred height etc. is completely over the top and the romantic about having a baby and the excitement (I am wondering how it is going to look like) is gone.
    So, I do like the medical aspect (prevention of diseases, creation of organs for transplantation) but I do not agree with the modeling studio for babies.
    So, IF there were governments to allow further research on this, there should be VERY clear and strict laws for which purposes only researches are tolerated.

    Reply
  2. Larissa

     /  January 10, 2012

    Hi Viola,
    I’m glad that I decided to read your post although I have to admit that the length wasn’t actually inviting;-) You really found lots of interesting facts and aspects, which I cannot question, so I’ll just describe the effect their presentation had on me:

    1. JUST IMAGINE was just great to lead me into the topic!

    2. the VIDEO was a good addition for me as it appeals to a different “channel” . Entertaining, memorizable, good length.

    3. Then I got a little confused. So many bullet points with sub-bullet points. Some in red. I kind of lost orientation and then saw that everything from that section belonged to the section WHAT WOULD THE SOCIETY LOOK LIKE, which seemed attached to the prior section. I think it would be better for me to understand if some of the sub-bullet points were combined.
    Nevertheless, I like the creative approach with the literature/movie-quotes.

    4. Again, maybe you could include BUT CONTROVERSITY in the WHERE ARE WE GOING PART: We might either go there or there. Your way is effective in regard to present contrast but for me it would be easier to have it more compact.

    5. FEAR: Certainly important when it comes to GE.

    6. PROS AND CONS GE: I felt like going through everything again but I know your topic is very complex and hard to be reduced. It might have been easier to split it up into more posts or only focus on a particular aspect.

    7. Questions: I think it’s a very good idea to end with questions, especially on such a controversial topic. Your post provided me with enough (new) arguments to form an opinion and the questions really make me think.

    If your next post is shorter I’ll even have enough energy to answer;-)
    Btw, a movie you might be interested in: NEVER LET ME GO. I found it very touching and enriching.

    Reply
  3. Hey Viola,

    I liked your introduction, it was very interesting that’s why I continued reading your extremely blog post! 😉 I liked that you listed up the Pro and Cons in a special section and in generall I liked the good structure of the blog post. The topic is very current and I think you wrote the post in a very smart way. The argument about the ‘genetic pollution’ shocked me a lot. I am very sceptical what genetic engineering concerns. Once I watched the movie “The Island” by Michael Bay which is about cloned people who were killed to used their organs as spare parts or surrogate motherhood for rich people. I hope that scientist act very carefully so that something like a super virus or another catastrophe will not happen.

    Reply
  4. Hey Larissa
    thank you a lot for your constructive feedback. This is exactly what I am looking for as it has rhyme and reason in it and is completely comprehensible.
    The subheads which are red got their colour because of the source attached to it. Already when writing I knew that this can be confusing but did not really know how to solve it as adding a “..as….states” to a headline didn’t appear more attractive to me.
    I will work on this though and am happy to receive your honesty 🙂

    Reply
  5. anne

     /  February 14, 2012

    wow viola, thats a heavy topic you chose! I remember when i had to give a presentation on Embryonic stem cell research in highschool. I was confronted with the same thoughts and arguments as you. and i still cant really decide, what the best way is… since there are so many major pros and cons,that you listed so detailed. gattaca is showing a more or less dark picture of what might happen, but does it really have to come to that?
    despite this endless yes and no, your blog post is very good. sharp, short and cut right to the chase. you compared the two views very profound, but nonetheless you let your reader develope his own thoughts!
    I really enjoyed reading your post!

    Reply

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