Should over many years with an increase in

Should genetic engineering be
used to improve human life?

Genetic engineering is altering
the DNA in a genome, the effect of this will enhance or modify characteristics
of and individual. 1 Genetic
engineering has development significantly, over many years with an increase in
technology seeing a rise in the amount of genetic engineering taking place.
This growth has also seen an increase in a number of different countries
changing their laws and views to support or reject the growing genetic
industry, with this there has been increased controversy 14 over whether
genetic engineering may lead to designer babies, how ethical it is considered
to be to destroy embryos afters days of experimentation and whether eradicating
so called gene dysfunctions will lead to everyone being seemingly more similar
and the world will therefore seem unnatural, or whether it will ultimately
reduce human suffering and improve human life. 2

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Source one was a website that
allows members of the public to “find out everything they would want to know
about DNA, genes and genomes”. This suggests the website is there to provide
factual and correct information that will inform people about the different
areas surrounding DNA. The website was put together by an organisation called
the public engagement team, who are managed by Wellcome Genome Campus, their
aim is “to share their research with the public”, and this would suggest that
this is a reliable source as their aim is to inform people, they would wish to
do this with current and up to date information. This is a campus which people
work and learn, which also advocates this website well as people working and
teaching there are qualified to give out research information. Source two, is
the national geographic society, which again is also a reliable source, because
it is well recognised by academia around the world, which means other people
trust it to be reliable. There is also a lot of highly qualified scientists who
work for the society, meaning they are qualified to put forward their research
findings. Source fourteen was a YouTube clip that explained about human genetic
engineering, I believe it was a reliable source because it has used up to date
information including recent statistics. There is a balanced argument to
suggest the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering.

Over recent years there has been
a significant number of countries nationally that have relaxed or changed their
laws about human genetic engineering, but how far countries are willing to change
varies from country to country and indeed internal cities are states within
that country or continent.

The first country to allow
genetic engineering was China in 2015. Eventually in March of 2017 researchers
in china, reported the first successful gene correction in a faulty gene behind
a type of anemia 3 called beta thalassemia this condition means people produce
either no or too little haemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry
oxygen around the body. 8 This in the future could improve human life as
people are able to live a more normal life without feeling constantly tiered
and short of breath, which are the effects of this blood disorder. However,
there is an underlying problem that this may not always be successful, and
people may end up having more problems than just this alone. China are most defiantly
in favour of the genetic modification movement, however in the future when new
technologies have been thought of it may be difficult to distinguish when to
stop modifying genes, because a point has been reached where it is hard to
distinguish if it is unnatural. It quite clear that China believe that allowing
these industries to develop may lead to less suffering and more freedom, which
ultimately means lives have been improved by genetic engineering.

Source three was from the
economist newspaper, which may mean that this source is subjective to
reliability, because there are many viewpoints, surrounding political
orientation or subject matter, however this information that I included was a
factual piece including a date I which china started to allow genetic
engineering. As this source agreed with many other sources I concluded that for
this piece of information it was respectable.  Source eight was gathered from the National
Health Service website, who aim to provide factual and helpful information
about different aliments and health related problems, this would therefore
suggest that it is a dependable source because is written by knowledgeable and
qualified people and is also a government service which would mean there are
governmental laws that have to be followed.

The researchers injected
86 embryos with the Cas9 protein and left them for two days to allow the
gene-editing to take place. Of the 71 embryos that survived, 54 were
genetically tested. The test showed that only 28 were successful in eradicating
the faulty gene. 4   This
only a thirty-three percent success rate, which may indicate that unless
improvements are made this technique may lessen people’s quality of life. Which
in turn means their life has not been improved by the genetic engineering
process. China initially experimented on embryos that were non-viable however
is has since become apparent that they are now using viable embryos to
experiment 5.

Source four was from
the Telegraph newspaper, which is subject to authors who have their own
opinions and the facts that are included are drawn out by the individual
author, this may mean it is not a reliable source because it may include biased
information. However, the author of this article was written by Sarah Knapton
who is the Telegraph’s science editor, suggesting she is knowledgeable in this
area. The statistics that have been included were from the
Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou how carried out the
experiment, this may mean the results are biased but as it was fairly
unsuccessful, I believe that this has not happened. Source five was from a
science website called popular mechanics, this is article based information and
this specific article was written by a physics editor, so therefore this may
not be a specific area of his expertise meaning his information may not be
fully correct. The article was written in March 2017, meaning the information
is up to date with the current technology being used.

How far will china
go before people morally and ethically object to the direction in which the
modification is progressing. An issue china is facing is that they already have
significant problems with human rights in other areas, which suggests putting
pressure on the country will not in fact have any affect 6.  This suggests that ultimately it will be easy
for china to be considered to have gone too far with the genetic modification
however currently there are many legislations in place to prevent this from
happening. China prohibits the implantation of
genetically modified embryos in a woman. 7

This was closely
followed by the United Kingdom, who in February 2016 approved a request by the
Francis Crick Institute, in London to modify human embryos. The modification
would take place using a new editing method called CRISPR-Cas9. This editing
technique uses a bacterially derived protein to cut-away a particular gene,
which is then replaced or repaired by another molecule introduced at the same
time. 4 This institute endeavour to produce safer
and more successful fertility treatments 2

This would seemingly
look like a positive movement and how could object to people being able to have
healthy children, however what is not always considered is that modifying human
embryos is dangerous, potentially unsuccessful, unnatural, and the consents and
future generations if not accounted for. 2 Genetic engineering
can also be used to ensure people are immune to or their risk of contracting a
specific disease is significantly lowered. However, a problem that may come out
of this is that modifying genes to make people immune to one disease may make
them immune to something vital or make them more susceptible to become ill or
die from another disease. 9

Source nine was from
an online website called business insider, which is an article based website,
with individual authors publishing research. 
This particular author was called Tanya Lewis, who was a science
reporter who specialised in biology, she has a degree in science communication.
This would indicate that this is a reliable source because the author is
qualified in this subject area. The article was also written just after the
United Kingdom legalised Human genetic engineering, this would suggest that the
information that has been included is current and from the latest research
carried out.

The research carried
out the the UK was ‘aimed at finding
the genes at play in the early days of human fertilisation.’ Although this was
approved by The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, there was ‘anger
and dismay’ by people who were concerned about the rapid advances in genome
technology and editing, as there was not sufficient consideration about ethical
issues surrounding the problem. 10 Even though CRISPR, has been legalised, some
consider it to be unnecessary because doctors can already screen out many of
these diseases before a pregnancy, due to IVF and pre-implantation genetic
screening. This would suggest that there are invalid and unnecessary reasons as
to why human genetic engineering should be allowed. This suggest that there
will be no improvement in human life because there are already methods that are
being used to rectify genetic problems. 9

The UK have also recently had a trial on three parent embryos which means
that there is DNA form three different parents is used to produce one baby,
this would involve ‘mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), to women whose
faulty DNA puts them at risk of passing on genetic diseases to their
children.’11

Both source ten and eleven were from the Guardian newspaper which typically
has center to left wing political views, this may suggest that is subject to
biased views, because of the author’s political view. However as this is
factual information that was released by individual companies and these two
articles are in line with other articles regarding the same subject would
indicate that it is reliable for this specifically.

Despite many countries across the globe being in favor of human genetic
engineering, there are some countries that are opposed to it, such as Italy.
12 Italy is a very catholic country where the majority of the population hold
very strong views about the sanctity of life, that it is sacred and God given. This
Catholic influence would suggest that genetic engineering would not improve
human life because God gives life and the life He gives is perfect due to His
perfect plan. 13 The majority of the Roman Catholic Church are opposed to
human genetic engineering not just because of religious reasons but because
they believe that it violates the ‘right to autonomy’. If parents choose their
child’s genetic characteristics, the parents are not allowing that child to be ‘fully
free’ and therefore they will not have an ‘open future’. 13

People may object to Italy’s view, in say what is the problem with ‘preventing
children from being born with serious disorders, and to potentially help
those destined to inherit serious, incurable diseases’ 15. They would agree
in that improving people’s lives so they can live freely without genetic disorders
is good, there are some’Catholic Church’s to which is
clear that gene therapy is good, while genetic enhancement is morally wrong’. 16.
They are not opposed to people having a good quality of life but the uncertainty
of whether it will be successful and the fact that they believe, God has higher
authority them the companies who develop and use these different technological
means.