DAA Daily

Genetic Engineering: A Turning Point in the World of Bioethics

By Miraya Aggarwal, Feature Editor, The Pawprint

The world stands at a turning point. New and invasive technologies are making it possible to correct corrupt and mutated genes easily. These include genetic modification or engineering that works by the isolation of DNA fragments from a donor organism being added to the genetic code of a new organism or cell therapies. The rapid progression of a new and impressive technology in this field has led to a lack of discussion on its societal, cultural, and ethical implications. Genetic engineering is showing early signs of being integral to the survival of the human race. This is because it can help prevent the inheritance of diseases and mutations in people’s genes and help increase holistic understanding and early detection of mutations. Genetic modification is an ethical medical practice. However, it is essential to establish regulations and specific laws outlining the ethics behind these medical practices.

A process called Crispr Technology has made it possible to identify genes to the point where they can be strained and prevented from being passed on to the next generation. This example is one of many where detection of genetic diseases before or during the embryological stage has been proven successful. Since genetic engineering has been thriving with the prevention of inherent disease and mutation of cells, more research has been done supporting arguments in favor of the medical procedure.

Early detection of diseases is often met with a positive outcome. It is important to note how we can fast-track early detection or even complete prevention with the use of genetic engineering. Understanding that a higher prevalence of procedures similar to genome editing will lead to a holistic understanding of cells and identification of mutated cells. This is because if a system can be built to read cells for prevention of diseases being passed on, similar prototypes can be used for early detection of diseases similar to cancer.

With the increased relevance of genetic engineering in the past years, a common debate arose which revolves around the concept of  “humans playing god”. It is most definitely a valid concern leading to hurdles like a genetic advantage to the privileged, a mosaic of genes, and ethical and societal constraints coming into play. It is important to understand that we humans have spent our entire lifespan as species “playing god”. When attaching wheels to a wooden plank we made a cart that went on to beat the natural constraint of how fast we can travel. Addressing the concerns regarding safety, it is clear that laws and specific guidelines must be set and adhered to. If the question of ethics is raised, then genetic engineering meets the mark as long as it is very carefully controlled and completed with the best intent.

Genetic engineering is a very powerful technology. The more powerful a tool is, the more regulation it needs. There is no question that genetic engineering is transformative in its very nature and important to the survival and thriving nature of humanity.

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