This is a petition to raise awareness of the need for limits to and controls on genetic engineering. These limits and controls should come from the scientific community and agreed upon by the governments where the science is being conducted.
Genetic engineering has been around for over 30,000 years but only recently we have begun direct human genetic engineering which has had a great impact on what we think of as genetics. Direct human genetic engineering, physically altering human DNA, has only existed since the 1970s but even though this form of science is so new to us, human genetic engineering raises deep moral questions as well as social questions when it comes to how it will affect society.
At the beginning of the Stone Age, humans discovered how to breed wild animals into domestic ones so that they could harvest the animal’s milk or meat with much less difficulty. They also domesticated canines so that they could be hunting partners and could cooperate with humans. This is indirect genetic manipulation because they were not physically altering the genome but they were breeding animals to maximize a desirable trait that both the parent’s possessed.
Genetic scientists are the medical professionals responsible for and involved with direct genetic manipulation. But the scientists are not always working independently; often, governments have enormous power over the direction the science takes. That said,sometimes the scientists definitely go too far. One example of this is of a Chinese scientist named He Jiankui who genetically modified two human embryos using a form of gene modification called CRISPR-Cas9 to disable copies of the CCR5 gene. He did this in order to test whether the embryo’s father sperm would pass his HIV infection onto the embryo’s themselves. He did this even when we already have the ability to prevent the transmission without genetic modification. Because of this, He Jiankui was called monstrous and was shunned from many scientific communities. He had done what many thought to be impossible, but even though what he did was incredible, it was horrific as well.
Since we have begun to genetically engineer humans, the world has recognized its benefits, but also the dangers it creates. As with all new scientific discoveries, it is of vital importance that we stay aware of the potential they have for doing more damage than good.
The danger of which I speak is about the fact that because genetically modifying humans is not cheap, only very rich people would be able to afford having their children rid of all genetic diseases. This would cause a tremendous gap between people of different economic situations. The world would become a dystopia, those who were healthy and strong on an inhuman level would have all the power and money and those who may not be healthy or of normal strength would have no money or any control. The imbalance would offer the opportunity to conniving individuals to promise to rid people’s children of genetic disease but instead would scam people and even harm the embryo. All of this amounts to the fact that the genetic engineering of humans would be extremely harmful to our world.