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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.