Genetic the resilience, nutritional value and growth rate

Genetic engineering is the manipulation of DNA that results in the enhancement or modification of the phenotypes of an organism in a particular way.  This occurs when, “one base pair (A-T or C-G) is changed, deleting a whole region of DNA, or introducing an additional copy of a gene (“What Is Genetic Engineering?”, 2017).” With the introduction of CRISPR-ca9, which is a cheaper more effective way to apply genome editing, genetic engineering has become a huge ethical debate. The intricacies of CRISPR-ca9 are well explained in Rhett and Link’s, “Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR”. The video explains how genetic engineering has many practical purposes, currently, it is used to improve the resilience, nutritional value and growth rate of crops and recently, in animals, it has been used to treat diseases. Scientists have, “…developed sheep that produce a therapeutic protein in their milk that can be used to treat cystic fibrosis or worms that glow in the dark to allow scientists to learn more about diseases such as Alzheimer’s (“What Is Genetic Engineering?”, 2017).” It also discusses how genetic engineering is being used for human gene therapy. Many disorders arise from a loss, mistaken insertion, or change of a single nitrogenous base in a DNA molecule during Meiosis. Some examples of these disorders are sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s Disease, and Cystic fibrosis. Scientists are interested in being able to cure these diseases, but they are afraid of how far people will want to design people, so that they fit into the cultural and fashion normality of the time. This is due to the rising number of people that are interested in genetically modifying embryos in order to alter the sex, physical characteristics, or intelligence level of their babies. Others are interested in this operation because currently when parents find out their child will be born with a fatal genetic disease or nondisjunction disorders they have very few options. Genetic engineering would allow parents to have another option either then to abort their child or allow them to live with a life-altering condition. When researching this topic I noticed that the Catholic Church is against the idea of editing human genetics for non-medical purposes. In the Catechism it says, Certain attempts to influence chromosomal or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity which are unique and unrepeatable (Catholic Church, 2275).Although, something important to note is that genetic engineering can be broken down into two categories: genetic enhancement and gene therapy. The Church is against genetic enhancement. This is because genetic enhancement alters humans in a way not possible by nature and therefore not in a way that God intended. On the other hand, the church agrees with gene therapy. Gene therapy occurs in unhealthy patients who are suffering from diseases related to their genome. Most gene therapy techniques that are currently being researched are single gene mutations, this is because polygenic diseases can affect many base pairs making them far more complicated to work with. Although in the Bible it says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image(The Holy Bible, Genesis 1:26-27)…” Therefore I feel as though in the bible the disapprove of any changes to the human race as it would be going against God’s creation of his ideal image. The Bible also proclaims, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (The Holy Bible, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).”  This further implies that genetically modifying one’s body would be deemed as though you were going against God since he put apart of himself in every one of us. Although, under the umbrella of both of those two categories we can genetically modify embryos or fully developed human beings. Something interesting to think about is whether or not altering the genetic code of an embryo is accepted by society and the church.  According to many scientists genetically engineering embryos is a heavy debate. Genetic engineering could be detrimental or beneficial to future generations. Since we do not know that much about it, we could be left with off-target effects. These effects can occur in all gene therapy techniques. However, there are two different types of gene therapy techniques that I am going to focus on. There are somatic cell gene therapy and germline editing. Somatic cell gene therapy involves injecting a patient with a healthy genetic material. Since the reproductive cells are not involved the effects of the gene therapy cannot be passed on to their offspring. On the other hand, if you alter an embryos genetics through the process of germline editing, this will affect the reproductive cells and therefore will be passed down to their offspring. Many scientists are against editing reproductive cells because they do not want the edits to be passed down into the gene pool of the generations to come, in case our edits reveal bigger problems then we have now. On the other hand, the Church believes, One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival (Catholic Church, 2275).Therefore the Church approves embryonic procedures as long as it is for beneficial medical reasons. Despite the Catholic teachings the Holy Father Francis has come up with his own opinion on Genetic engineering. He says, It is difficult to make a general judgement about genetic modification (GM), whether vegetable or animal, medical or agricultural, since these vary greatly among themselves and call for specific considerations. The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application. Genetic mutations, in fact, have often been, and continue to be, caused by nature itself. Nor are mutations caused by human intervention a modern phenomenon. The domestication of animals, the crossbreeding of species and other older and universally accepted practices can be mentioned as examples…In nature, however, this process is slow and cannot be compared to the fast pace induced by contemporary technological advances, even when the latter build upon several centuries of scientific progress (“Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care For Our Common Home”, 2015).He does not see anything wrong with genetic engineering he apprehends the fact that selective breeding has been apart of the human race since time began. Although he is worried that if the technique is put into the wrong hands genetic engineering will change the face of the human genome in a way that makes us no longer recognizable, and that’s why I believe the church addresses this issue.Although genetic engineering has many beneficial outcomes, there are also many dangers. Such as the fear of governments or terrorist groups using them to create superhuman armies to defeat their enemies. The potential harm that could be caused to the human genome if we edit reproductive cells. By doing this we could alter our species to a point where we are no longer recognizable. Another danger is the removal of the gift of creating life, parents will be creating children that they want instead of loving their children no matter what. Especially, if we use genetic engineering to create designer babies, that are more intelligent and beautiful. This is because we will be removing the gift that God gives every one of us, to be created in his image. If we introduce designer babies no child will be created as an individual and the fear is that the individuality of society will be stripped away. I also believe the church addresses this issue because it may lower the abortion rate, which is beneficial. Since the catechism says, Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life (Catholic Church, 2270).Therefore, the church disagrees with abortion, and genetic engineering could lower the rate of terminated pregnancies due to prenatal tests detecting fact genetic diseases and mutations. Despite what the church and scientist around the word say I have formulated my own opinion on the mater. In my opinion, I am for genetic engineering as long as there are restrictions on its uses. Genetic engineering should not be allowed to edit reproductive cells until we are experts in the scientific process. This is to ensure that off-target effects are not passed down to future generations. Another restriction that should be in place is that the implications of genetic engineering can only be used to cure people suffering from chromosomal mutations and genetic diseases and not on people that are already healthy. My opinion is to ensure that the human race can benefit from all the positive applications of genetic engineering, and they are not affected by the negative applications.After looking at all of my research it has become apart that genetic engineering is a very controversial issue. Many people agree, but many people disagree. I have found several arguments for genetic engineering. Jacob Corn talks about his support to genetic engineering for its potential of eradicating fatal genetic diseases and nondisjunction disorders. Jacob Corn says, There are many genes that can cause a single disease…Whenever you take a drug when it comes to genetic disease you’re really treating the symptoms. But the problem lies in your very DNA… If you stop taking the drug the symptoms of the mutation is still there and the symptoms will come back. So, what’s happening now and is really getting biologist very excited is the ability to go in and try to reverse the very mutation itself. To try to remove the fundamental underlying cause of genetic disease and thereby not just cure symptoms…(Rhett and Link “The end of genetic disease | Jacob Corn | TEDxBerkeley” Youtube). Another benefit to genetic engineering is the possibility of isolating and curing cancer in order to save our loved ones. In the following article, it says, Kaitlyn at age 5, after receiving her own genetically modified immune cells… in 2015, the cancer cells in Kaitlyn’s body melted away. Test after test, including one that picks up one cancer cell in a million, still can’t detect any malignant cells lurking in Kaitlyn’s blood. What saved Kaitlyn was an infusion of her own immune cells that were genetically modified to destroy her leukemia. (“Cancer’s Newest Miracle Cure”, 2017).Another benefit is that parents will be given another option, they would be able to use In Vitro Fertilization to ensure the embryos implanted into the mother’s womb do not have a genetic disease. They have the option to abort the child or use the process of genetic engineering if they find out they have a nondisjunction disorder or genetic disease to cure the child. In the following article, it says, For some couples, using germline genetic engineering (GGE) may be the only way to avoid passing on single gene disorders. Approximately 19% of women undergoing IVF only produce one viable embryo. Imagine that two carriers of the gene for cystic fibrosis (CF) wish to have a child together. They have a one in four chance of having a child with CF. They use IVF because they want to avoid this outcome. However, they only produce one embryo and this has two copies of the CF gene and will thus develop CF. In cases such as this, selection is not an option; however, GGE could be used to prevent CF (“The Ethics of Germline Gene Editing”, 2016). This is in an attempt to ensure future generations would not suffer from the same diseases in the future. Another intriguing argument for genetic engineering is the possibility to delay or stop aging in an attempt to live longer with our loved ones. In the following website, it says, Ageing kills 30 million every year…Gene editing could delay or arrest ageing; this has already been achieved in mice. Gene editing might offer the prospect of humans living twice as long, or perhaps even hundreds of years, without loss of memory, frailty or impotence (“Five reasons we should embrace gene-editing research on human embryos”, 2015).Despite the various benefits of genetic engineering, there are many downfalls. Therefore some people argue against genetic engineering. This is due to the, negative consequences for future generations. This objection can take two forms: either GGE will make unintended changes to the germline, through off-target mutations, which will have negative effects on future generations; or the changes we intend to make to the germline will have harmful unforeseen consequences (“The Ethics of Germline Gene Editing”, 2016). Also, many people fear the production of designer babies, in an attempt to create an ideal human being – that’s smarter, taller, and more beautiful. I believe this would remove the gift of creating life. Paul Knoepfler agrees, he says, Jenna…she was born a genetically modified designer babies, with numerous upgrades…it has become very clear to you that Jenna is extraordinary. She is incredibly intelligent if you’re honest with yourself she is smarter than you and she is 5 years old. She is beautiful, tall and athletic…it all sounds so great…I believe..we have to ban this we should not allow creating genetically modified people because it is just too dangerous and too unpredictable……but they’re on the swing next to them…is a GM kid…and you can’t help but compare them… How is that gonna make you feel? (Rhett and Link “The ethical dilemma of designer babies | Paul Knoepfler” Youtube).This is because naturally as a parent you always want your child to be the best and you can not help but compare your children to others. A modified child would be better in virtually every way. In my opinion, this could create resentment towards your child and a loss of love. However, in the following article, the daily mail discusses their concern with governments and possibly terrorist groups using this scientific advancement for the production of superhuman armies to wipe out their enemies. In the article it says, Tomorrow’s soldiers could be able to run at Olympic speeds and will be able to go for days without food or sleep, if new research into gene manipulation is successful. According to the U.S. Army’s plans for the future, their soldiers will be able to carry huge weights, live off their fat stores for extended periods and even regrow limbs blown apart by bombs (“Army of the future: Soldiers will be able to run at Olympic speed and won’t need food or sleep with gene technology”, 2012).Another important argument against genetic engineering is the loss of authenticity and the gifts that everyone around us are born with. The following website said that genetic engineering, “weakens the authenticity of the genetically modified person’s accomplishments. It holds that the engineered person’s abilities and talents are no longer his or her own, that these accomplishments are because of the alteration (“4 Major Arguments against Genetic Modification of Humans”, 2009).” To me, I think that this would strip the meaning of life from our very existence. We would never be celebrated for the accomplishments that we have achieved. Therefore, after considering all the potential downfalls and benefits of genetic engineering I was able to come up with three thought-provoking questions. One being, what genetic consequences will the human race face in the future due to genetic engineering? Furthermore, where do you draw the line with genetic engineering? Additionally, if we are using Genetic Engineering as an attempt to find or create the ideal human, will we ever be satisfied? My last question is the one that I would like to discuss because I feel like it is the most intriguing. In my opinion, I do not think we will ever find the ideal human. In today’s society fashion, trends change every season, we always need that new best thing out on the market. An item of clothing you loved a few weeks ago is now outdated and you find something else that you love better. I feel like this will be the same in our attempt to find the ideal human. One season big eyes will be considered beautiful and the next will be large cheekbones. Ultimately contributing to more people feeling like they don’t fit in and that they are not beautiful. In my opinion, diversity is what makes our world beautiful. In today’s society things like immunological, metabolic, cultural and mental diversity’s — including people with high-functioning autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and dyslexia are seen as abnormal. You would be surprised how much you can learn from people that are different. I think it would be a shame on our culture to create an ideal human being. The church teaching agrees with this. Since in the bible it says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving (The Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 4:4),” Therefore in an attempt to ‘upgrade’ the human race I feel as though we are masking the imperfections of our society and I wonder if this will make people happier, or cause more distress. This is because in our world we do not just have one skin tone, we do not have one kind of ear – we have detached and attached lobes – and we do not have one kind of hair colour. I would like to know who will be making the decisions in regards to what characteristics are deemed as beautiful and no matter what choice they make they will be wrong. This is because our diversity is already beautiful and we should not try to change that, we should embrace it.

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