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Transcript
Hansen 1
Jane Hansen
Professor Booth
ENG 101
10 December 2012
WA 3
Craving Perfection
Everyone in society today craves perfection. Whether it be the perfect body,
attaining the best grades in their classes, strong organs or having the ideal genetic make up.
While attaining the perfect body and best grades are possible through hard work, achieving
the ideal genetic make up is much more difficult. However through gene therapy and
chromosomal alteration the idea of creating the perfect strands of DNA is becoming a
reality. People are also in need of stronger internal organs, and through scientific studies
the idea of harvesting our own organs is becoming possible. Through these methods we are
essential creating the perfect human. Nevertheless technology will soon alter the way we
produce our offspring and they way the next generation lives, however these advances will
have a negative effect on society. If everyone can achieve perfection we are essential
eliminating the competition between one another.
Genetic screening was one of the first ways expectant mothers could determine
whether their embryo would contract any chromosomal diseases such as Down Syndrome.
Many women in today’s society who are over the age of 35 are highly recommended to
receive pre natal genetic screen tests to determine whether the embryo they are carrying
will contract certain chromosomal disease. These pre natal screens help expectant mothers
make decisions regarding their pregnancy. In an article published by The Economist, an
online news website, doctors discussed the downside of pre natal screening. One doctor
stated, “roughly 80% of women testing positive for Down's have abortions” (The
Hansen 2
Economist). Jon Colman, chief operating officer of the National Down Syndrome Society,
defended the children an adults living with Down Syndrome stating, “…most contribute to
their families and communities and all are entitled to lead productive, independent lives”
(Colman). These pre natal tests can result in the termination of embryos that could have
developed into babies that could have led relatively normal lives. While some people
cannot handle the pressures of raising a child with a genetic disease, others terminate the
pregnancies because they believe they conceived an “imperfect” baby. Yet pre natal tests
are only the beginning of the changes we can make to improve the lives of potential
offspring.
Pre natal screening can determine the different genetic genes that an embryo may
pose, however new advances in science have shown examples where chromosomes could
be altered. The alteration of chromosomes could prevent embryos from attaining certain
genetic diseases such as Down Syndrome and Edward’s Syndrome. Down Syndrome and
Edward’s Syndrome are diseases in which one or more of a humans forty-six chromosomes
develop abnormally. Many scientists are researching the idea of creating a way to repair
chromosomes that have been damaged. In Dr. Mario R. Capecchi’s article “Altering the
Genome by Homologous Recombination” he explains his experiment involving the
modification of the mouse genome. He discuses the different ways that scientists can
transfer cloned DNA sequences into the genomes of living cells. His research shows that it
is possible the target certain genes and potentially certain chromosomes. Despite these
advances in science, changing the genetic make up of individuals can become harmful to
society.
Hansen 3
If parents could choose the genetic make up of their offspring, there is nothing
preventing them from creating their ideal child. This is the issue Dr. Gregory Stock
discusses in his TED talk “To upgrade is human”. Stock argues that we are going to start
using scientific methods to prevent ourselves from contracting certain diseases but that it
will soon evolve too much more, such as changing personality traits. However Stock says
that is just the beginning of what will occur, soon parents will begin to change the
chromosomal make up of their embryos by adding artificial chromosomes. He believes this
will occur so parents can prevent passing on less likeable traits to their offspring. However
Stock points out an important social issue “Not everything that can be done, should be
done.” He states the alarming fact that it is not a question of when people will start creating
these perfect offspring but when, because that is the mind set society has reached, because
of the many advances in technology. People no longer need to hope they will have a
wonderful child because soon they will be able to guarantee the will. Stock explains in this
powerful statement what will potentially happen to our society if these types of
technologies become available,
“We are human that is what we do we try to use our technology to improve our lives in one way
or another. To imagine that we are not going to use these technologies when they become
available is as much a denial of who we are. As to imagine we will use the technologies and not
fret or worry about it a great deal. The lines are going to blur they already are. Between therapy
an enhancement, between treatment and prevention, and between need and desire, that is the
most essential one” (Stock)
These new types of technology will only create more dived between the social classes. This
is because just like all other types of new and innovating technology we currently have in
Hansen 4
society the rich will have first access to it, and it may rarely reach the lower poor classes.
However creating perfect offspring is not the only way technology will impact our lives,
soon scientists predict we will be able to regenerate our own organs.
Technology has come a long way since the very first organ transplant. In Anthony
Atala’s TED talk “Growing New Organs” he examines the idea of getting rid of organ
transplant all together, and instead having humans grow their own organs. Atala gathers
this idea from lizards, which can regrow limbs they have previously lost. Since our body is
constantly regenerating our skin, hair, nails, etc. Atala believes that we can should be able
to regenerate our internal organs as well. This would occur in situations where people
were in need of new organs because they were in an accident, or had a disease. However if
people were able to grow their own organs people would begin to survive incidents in
which they would have normally have died. Now while this could be beneficial, it also could
have a negative affect on society. Since people will have ability the harvest their own
organs they will begin to live longer lives. The next generation will become some of the
first people to live with these different types of technologies. Through this type of
technology we are essentially setting our offspring to become stronger than ourselves.
Founding director of the Harvard Business School Life Science Project Juan Enriquez
expresses his thoughts on the evolution of our society. In Enriquez’s TED talk “Will Our
Kids Be A Different Species”, he explains how over the past centuries our society has been
constantly changing and how every day we discover new ways in which we have evolved.
Enriquez explains how we have evolved because of our advances in technology, and our
current society is an example of that. In the year 2009 we discovered the 10,000th genome,
Hansen 5
there are over ten thousand ways we are different than people we currently see everyday.
Enriquez explains how society does not want to believe that we are all different, because
acknowledging that we are different will only lead to larger problems. Because despite
peoples disbelief some humans are born with a stronger genetic make up than others.
Enriquez explains how some peoples genetic allows them to perform tasks that others
cannot, “Do you have an ACE Gene? Why would that matter, because no one has ever
climbed an 8,000-meter peek without oxygen that doesn't have an ACE gene and if you
want to get more specific how about a 577R genotype? Well it turns out that every male
Olympic power athlete ever tested carries at least one of these varying’s”. (Enriquez) The
more we discover that certain people are genetically superior to others the more we try
and change ourselves. Which is why in 2008 plastic surgeons performed over 10.2 million
operations. However soon, according to Enriquez, we will not need plastic surgery because
with our advances in technology we will soon be able to rebuild our body parts into our
ideal versions of them. In addition in China scientists took the cells of a mouse and were
able to re create in a lab an identical version of that mouse, and there are new studies in
which they are attempting to do the same thing but with humans. However if people are
constantly able to recreate an “updated” version of themselves, will they every truly be
satisfied. These new advances in technology will also allow parents to select certain genes
that they want their offspring to express. This Enriquez explains is just another part of
evolution, and that because of recent advances in technology we will soon be able to create
offspring with extremely gifted genetics. People are extremely driven to create these
genetically superior children because technology has made them believe that being perfect
Hansen 6
is the ultimate goal. However by attempting to create these “super babies” we are harming
society, and interrupting evolution.
Advancements in technology are playing a role in the way our society is evolving.
Harry Fineberg, president of the Institute od Medicine, explains his idea of neo – evolution.
Neo – evolution is evolution guided by the choices we make in technology. Fineberg
explains how people can now choose the sex of their baby with the help of technology.
However allowing parents to choose the sex of their baby can negatively effect the balance
of society, for the domination of one sex can lead to offsetting of the number of offspring in
the future. Fineberg says that in the near future will be able to select the traits their
children will inherit, there for directing evolution in the way they want it to go. However
that is not the way the world was designed to work. All the new advances in technology will
essentially eliminate natural selection, the idea that only the fittest will survive. Fineberg
explains the idea that in the future people will soon be able to prevent themselves from
contracting disease,
“…for you in your body to make the genetic adjustments that would cure or prevent or
diseases. What if you could make the genetic changes to prevent diabetes, or
Alzheimer’s, or reduce the risk of cancer and eliminate the possibility of contracting
strokes. Wouldn't you want to make those changes in your genes? If we look ahead these
types of changes will be increasingly possible” (Fineberg)
Fineberg’s proposal that one day will be able to potentially cure ourselves and that we will
be able to protect our children is all because of technology. Technology has made it so that
soon members of the society we live in can pay for genomes that will potentially protect
Hansen 7
their children from contracting such disease. But by doing this we are not allowing society
to evolve natural but instead are interfering and changing evolution to the way we think it
should be.
Interfering with evolution appears on paper to be a large problem, however
technology has been changing the path of society for the past century. There is a fine line
retired nurse Carol Haysboro says between playing God and scientific research.
Nevertheless scientists still continue to perform numerous genetic experiments. Doctor
Leon Kass said, “…if we don't experience an immediate abhorrence at the thought of human
cloning, there's already something seriously wrong with our society. We're beginning to do
in our labs, what we executed folks for at Nuremberg -- not the genocide of Jews, but trying
to breed superior beings, as if humans were cattle.'' People used to fear the idea that we
would one day be able to create these genetically perfect humans, but now that we have the
technology to do so people could not be more thrilled.
Allowing parents to choose the genes of their offspring originally seemed like the
ideal solution to preventing children from contracting genetic disease, and later on in their
lives life threating ones such as cancer and diabetes. These types of advances in technology
are ultimately giving people the power to play God; we are allowing parents to aid in their
child’s destiny, and ultimately the outcome of society. While preventing diseases and
allowing people to live longer lives is beneficial, these advances in technology are the
beginning of the technological downfall of our society.