The debate on genome editing has gained momentum over the recent years after the discovery of the CRISPR because of its capability to make editing more accurate and efficient. Some bioethics believe gene editing in human beings should not be allowed, but research on gene therapy should continue. There appears to be an acceleration of ethical considerations on the issue of genome editing (Caplan et al., 2015). There is the possibility of off-targets implications; therefore, safety is of central concern. The primary goal of scientific research is to improve society through innovation and knowledge, but a community needs to reflect on the implication of scientific research in society. Reflection of genome editing doesn't only require the experts in the field but also a touch of our emotions because science might have lost its place in the society in the pursuit of its objectivity.
Gene editing will change the trajectory of human evolution because it's in a position to cure hereditary diseases such as sickle cell anemia. The decision of whether genome editing technology should be used requires a robust set of scientific ethics and virtues (Fogleman et al., 2016). Therefore, it's essential for the human race not to be deluded by the emergence of germline genetics because there is a lot that comes in play. The following paper seeks to explore the reasons against modification of human modification through genetic engineering.
The technological advancements in genetic engineering raise a lot of questions, and an equally important aspect is, can science circumvent evolution? Genetic evolution has widely been used in the manipulation of cells and bacteria and raised less controversy until the emergence of genome editing. The issue on genome editing has been a media sensation because of the ethical issues that arise (Hendriks et al., 2018). Genetic codes are similar in all living organisms, and this is what has made genetic engineering possible. It is, however, essential to note that the technology behind the cloning of animals like Dolly doesn't involve the use of genetic engineering.
The technique consists of the manipulation of the cell, unlike in human modification that requires the generation of DNA ("National Academies of Sciences," 2017). Genome editing has compromised the vehement of Christian faith because it's more of playing God. The bible has mandated the human race to take care of the earth (Genesis 1:28, 30; 2:15-20), and it was more evident after the story of Eve and Adam (Genesis 1:26-8; 2:15). We are called to be stewards, and more so the bible has demythologized the nature supernatural overtones. A more substantial argument against genome editing is that it's dangerous and unnatural.
Firstly, the doctrine of creation dictates that God is the almighty creator, and he made the creation through his son. According to the book of Colossians, all things were created' by Jesus and 'in him, and all things hold together' in the present (Colossians 1:16-17). Therefore, the process of human modification through genetic engineering is against the authorship of God. Secondly, genetic engineering is a way of playing God because nature is inviolable. We are called to be stewards of the kingdom, and pursuing genetic engineering is a way of neglecting the responsibilities (Kofler, 2019). For example, the use of genetic engineering in farming is an excellent way of practicing stewardship. This is because the technology will help in feeding the hungry and eradicating diseases.
Thirdly, human modification raises ethical considerations because there is a lot of uncertainty which makes it challenging to proceed. For example, it has been found that a gene can be problematic, and on the other hand, can have some benefit. The gene that lowers the chance of a person contracting HIV is responsible for the high prevalence of West-Nile virus. As a consequence of the uncertainty, it is challenging to balance between the benefits and the risks of germ lining in human beings (Kofler, 2019). Fourthly, synthetic biology should not be about human modification. This is because centuries back, different methods have been used in breeding and have been useful in cloning. The use of genetic engineering has brought a paradigm shift and is destabilizing the power and faith of many religions.
The basis of any religion is touched when the issue of human modification through genetic engineering surfaces. Indeed, the new technology is overstepping the religious boundary. Firstly, human beings are created in the image of God, and therefore, the issue of genetic engineering in human beings could be taken as being blasphemous. According to Genesis 1:27, "So God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." More evidence in support of this argument can be found in the book of Genesis 1:31," And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was excellent." It can be seen from the above evidence that God's creation is perfect, and altering it could only make it worse.
At the same time, the book of Psalm talks against human engineering. The publication notes that human beings are wonderfully made and the development of the humans in the womb is an apparent evidence human modification is destructive (Caplan et al., 2015). According to Psalm 139:13," For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are beautiful, I know that full well." secondly, the process of human modification raises a lot of uncertainty consequently makes it difficult to strike a balance between the advantages and the disadvantages.
The critiques, on the other hand, argue that people should leverage the use of reproductive technology. The uncertainty should not discourage people from using germline editing because it provides a way of creating designer babies. Each of these theoretical applications makes an essential contribution to the understanding of human modification through genetic engineering. Despite the criticisms raised by naysayers, the popularity against the use of genetic engineering in human modification remains high (Baker, 2016). This is because germline modification is associated with a lot of risk factors. Scientists are yet to establish between the merits and demerits of human modification, and this is not to say that germline modification can never be morally acceptable.
More so, after the Chinese study on human modification was carried out, the scientific procedure was problematic because of the variability of the results in comparison to the human embryo. Lastly, human change is against the faith of many religions because the bible points we are wonderfully and fearfully made (Baker, 2016). The further adjustment will create destruction to the humankind. This point is also sustained by the issue of uncertainty in a clinical application because more research is required to give a full detail of the risks associated with germline modification.
The technological advancements in genetic engineering in human modification has raised a lot of concerns. There appears to be an acceleration of ethical considerations on the issue of genome editing. Indeed, the new technology is overstepping the religious boundary because human beings are created in the image of God, and therefore, the effect of genetic engineering in human beings could be taken as being blasphemous. More so, there is the possibility of off-targets implications. Therefore, safety is of central concern. This research paper has explored various reasons that are against the use of genome editing for human modification.
Baker, B. (2016). The Ethics of Changing the Human Genome. BioScience, 66(4), 267-273. doi:10.1093/biosci/biw017
Caplan, A. L., Parent, B., Shen, M., & Plunkett, C. (2015). No time to waste-the ethical challenges created by CRISPR. EMBO reports, 16(11), 1421-1426. doi:10.15252/embr.201541337
Fogleman, S., Santana, C., Miller, C., & Capco, D. G. (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 and mitochondrial gene replacement therapy: promising techniques and ethical considerations. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5043096/
Hendriks, S., Giesbertz, N. A., Bredenoord, A. L., & Repping, S. (2018). Reasons for being in favour of or against genome modification: a survey of the Dutch general public. Human Reproduction Open, 2018(3). doi:10.1093/hropen/hoy008
Kofler, N. (2019). Why were scientists silent over gene-edited babies? Nature, 566(7745), 427-427. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00662-4
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (USA) On Human Gene Editing: International Summit Statement. (2017). Jahrbuch fur Wissenschaft und Ethik, 21(1). doi:10.1515/jwiet-2017-0117
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