English Composition I
Mrs. Robyn Weaver
Human Genetic Engineering
The ability to genetically engineer and modify our children before birth is now a reality. Genetic Modification is a new science that has created significant controversy for the human race. If genetic modification becomes a common practice without any legal restrictions, our world as we know it would completely change. With this unfathomable practice, our world is now open to an array of opportunities. Scientists can now prevent certain medical conditions passed down to children. The economic advantages that could be generated from this industry are huge. Even though there are advantages to genetic engineering, there are many disadvantages that will outweigh everything else. Richard Hayes, the executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, talks about the major problems with genetic modification in his essay called “Supersize you Child?”. Hayes makes a very good and agreeable argument about the severe consequences of this scientific discovery. Genetic modification, if not restrained by strict regulations and limits, will be accompanied by detrimental consequences to the human race in social, biological, and economic ways. There is lots of evidence and many reasons to why this claims is true.
Richard Hayes is a credible scientist that works for a nonprofit organization working for the responsible governance of genetic technology. In his essay, “Supersize your Child?” he tries to inform the audience about genetic modification and prove why it will hurt our society. He highly encourages the implementation of strict regulations and policies on scientists practicing genetic engineering. He begins his essay with background information and important facts about the emergence of genetic modification. With this new technology, scientists can insert genes into an embryo to create a certain trait or alter the biology of a human being. For example, Hayes talks about the 5-HTT gene that can reduce the risk of depression. Another gene, called DAF-2, can be used to double the life span of humans (185). Hayes discusses his thorough research on the subject and quotes many different scientists involved in genetic modification. He quotes Dr. Richard Lynn, a supporter of human genetic modification by stating, “What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the “phasing out” of such peoples… Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent” (186). This provides a good example of the type of attitude and excitement some scientists have with the development of this technology. Richard Hayes presents an opposing argument to the type of attitude displayed by supporters of human genetic modification. These scientists are looking for the creation of a genetic elite.
After establishing a platform for genetic modification and discussing the possible advantages described by scientists, Hayes goes on to explain why it has enormous consequences. He lists the many reasons why the use of this science will essentially harm the human race and the society we live in. For example, Hayes suggests there will be a rise in inequality and that it will alter the fundamental biology of the human species. Hayes states, “The birth of the first genetically modified child would be a watershed moment in human history. It would set off a chain of events that would feed back upon themselves in ways impossible to control”(187). At the end of his essay, Hayes proposes a solution to the development of genetic modification and how we can prevent it from destroying our society. He suggests that every country needs to create a set of regulations and restrictions that limit the technology to medical purposes only. To achieve this goal, Hayes lays out a list of steps that will help the world seize control over the matter. Hayes wants the reader to realize the seriousness of the issue and take action against genetic modification.
The opinions and points Richard Hayes makes about the issue of genetic engineering are very realistic and completely true. Humans now have the ability to take control our own evolution and launch it into overdrive. It is a dangerous scientific technology that will be the gateway to societal destruction. The concept of phasing out the genetically inferior people is a power that should not be left in the hands of any human. As a society, we should accept the diversity of the human race. We should embrace the less than perfect nature of all humans. The embracement of our flaws is a significant part of life. It is the factor that makes our lives so precious. If the practice of human genetic modification can alter the biology of our species, then something should be done to keep it from becoming out of control. As a common species, homo sapiens, we share a fundamental biology that dates back thousands of years ago. Altering with our shared fundamental biology could be horrible for humans (187).
There are many reasons to why genetic engineering is a dangerous and potentially destructive science. All of these reasons are discussed in Hayes’s essay. Hayes addresses one of the underlying questions: “Once we allow children to be designed through embryo modification where would we stop?”(187). As long as it is possible to alter one gene, people will want to alter more and more until the original human genome barely exists. Considering there are no limits, we would not know where to stop in the use of this technology. Human genetic modification is so dangerous, that even the strictest regulations will hardly help in limiting its use. The prohibition of genetic modification for cosmetic and enhancement purposes is a very flexible limitation. Drugs like Prozac, Viagra, and Botox were originally produced and used for medical purposes only. However, this has significantly changed over time as many people use them for enhancement and cosmetic reasons. These consumer products have become very profitable (187). Genetic modification is no different from these products. Limitations on the new technology will be stretched until it becomes a tool for cosmetic improvement. We should not allow ourselves to abuse developments made for medical purposes.
Furthermore, the possible societal implications of human genetic modification are another reason why it should be restricted. Hayes believes that the use of the technology will cause a rise in inequality. It will be similar to the inequality present about three hundred years ago when masters and slaves existed. Humanity will be divided into those who are “superior” and those who are “inferior”(187). As he compares the era of slavery to a genetically enhanced society, Hayes states, “Human beings were bred, bought, and sold, like cattle or dogs… If left uncontrolled, the new human genetic technologies could set us on a trajectory leading to a Dark Age in which people are once again regarded as little better than cattle or dogs”(188). Human genetic technologies will promote a sense of discrimination in our society. As the use of human genetic engineering further develops, it will leave a huge mark on our world historically. Something that could generate this huge change throughout the whole world will be a historical turning point. Unless the entire world places restrictions on the use genetic modification, the international implications could cause serious tension between countries (188). The treat of international competition will grow. Every country will be competing to create the best breed of human beings.
Even though the newly developed science of genetic alteration has its advantages, there are many disadvantages that will outweigh the positive outcomes. Now that we have this technology so easily available, we must take action on establishing limitations. If there are no regulations, then there will be no time before people start to abuse its powers. To achieve a solution, we must recognize the unique nature of the challenges presented by human genetic technologies. Individuals, organizations, political leaders, and scientists need to protect humanity form being divided.
The newfound science of human genetic modification has created a lot of controversy throughout our world. Many scientists believe that this technology will solve many medical problems and create new medical breakthroughs. We will be able to create our own evolution and genetically perfect our race. However, the consequences of this scientific discovery will take a huge toll on humanity. With human genetic modification our society will be affected by issues such as the deepening of inequality and countries across the world will complete to create the best race of humans. A new Dark Age will emerge in history that will define the way humans are treated. In “Supersize your Child?”, by Richard Hayes, Genetic Modification is proven to change the entire world unless we put limitations and restrictions against its use. Human Genetic Modification is a practice that should be stopped as soon as possible and as much possible.
Hayes, Richard. “Supersize your Child?”. Elements of Argument. Ed. Annette T. Rottenberg and Donna Haisty Winchell. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s. 185-189. Print.