Genetic Engineering is not Immoral; it’s Inevitable

Despite being generally in favour of all things progressive and scientific, even I have been uncomfortable at times with the idea of genetically engineering humankind. But not only is this apprehension unfounded; it’s also putting off the unavoidable.

The argument against genetic engineering of humans seems obvious at first. Our genetics hugely affects who we are; being able to pick traits as we please could completely and irrevocably change human civilisation. Would ‘designer babies’ not lead to a money-driven society, where the social standing and wealth of one’s parents determines the starting chances and quality of life (to an even greater degree than is already the case)? Nevertheless, this wouldn’t be the first time a massive technological leap changed the face of humanity. Cars revolutionised how we move around; computers how we work and play. Change is life. But that alone isn’t enough to warrant such a dangerous concept. There is a much more important reason: natural selection.

Thanks to the wonders of medical science, natural selection no longer plays a significant role in the development of the human race. Disease that would kill off primitive man can be cured rather than adapted to; inherent ones that would otherwise be fatal can even be passed on to future generations to continue to spread. Nature’s harsh mechanism to keep a species healthy no longer works on advanced humankind.

I think it goes without saying that we can’t expect to try and re-instate survival of the fittest; civilisation needs its own alternative to accomplish the same effect. Just like you can’t solve traffic congestion by returning to horse-drawn wagons and walking, you can’t apply the natural solution to the civilised problem. ‘Nature‘ and what is ‘natural‘ are moden buzzwords for all things good and wholemeal, but in truth Nature is a force of balance and chaos that is typically directly opposed to the polarising and ordering of Civilisation.

The usual artificial solution (and that is what the civilised method always is), involves doing directly with scientific precision what nature does with trial & error and millions of years. Altering and fixing genes would allow us to retain genetic adaptability and strength without forsaking the individual’s desire to exist (which is an issue for Civilisation, not for Nature). It seems that if we want to retain biological health, some form of gene control is necessary. The real question is how far do we go? How do we regulate this? Who gets to decide? All much bigger questions, requiring greater depth than I have set aside for this article.

I think one thing is certain, however. It is inevitable.

5 thoughts on “Genetic Engineering is not Immoral; it’s Inevitable

  1. The official U.S. position on genetically-modified organisms is that there is no difference between them and natural organisms. The issue goes even further to suggest that no country should be able to require mandatory GMO labeling on food items, even though science shows that GMOs act differently in the body than do natural organisms and are a threat to health.

  2. Surely they are only a threat to health if improperly understood and tested? There is indeed nothing inherently different between a biological construct made through natural processess and one made by hand; they are composed of the same building blocks. To suggest that natural organisms are automatically different in some way even if their composition is the same is to suggest that nature’s products are in some way given a special privilidge in the universe; a philosophical view I cannot agree with.

    In any case, it is the genetic modification of ourselves that bears the serious dilemma for me. I think there is no moral basis for avoiding it for food. Apprehension seems to be either political or superstition.

  3. There hasn’t been a single study of GMO food that indicates it’s harmful to humans. Every one made has been exhaustively studied.
    Personally, I believe that GM humans are the future, and I can’t wait for it to happen.
    For the future!

  4. Natural vs Manmade?
    My only concern is that the Natural appears to develop based on the need to survive whereas the Manmade tends to be based on greed for the singular rather than the good of the whole. Having said that, which ever they are born into this world, it’ll be our actions today that will influence the young and the way forward.

  5. Actually, I would say that greed is primarily a natural phenomenon. In the wild, where an organism has the capacity to, it will acquire as many resources as it can feasibly hold (food, sunlight etc). Intense competition from other organisms (contemporaries, predators and even prey) is what keeps them living at their means, not any kind of honourable modesty. It isn’t until intelligent, sentient creatures put value on fairness to the individual that we see such organisms choosing to take only their fair share (as a choice).

    Once we accept that greed is a natural impulse, we can get over this counter-productive shame culture we have over the human condition; that we are in some way “broken” and that all artificial endeavour is a kind of taint to the nature we originated from. The truth is, we are equal parts Nature and Civilisation. And that is the subject of my next article.

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