What are the risks of genetic engineering in humans?
Intentional germline genetic engineering in humans where the DNA changes will be inherited by successive generations is by far the biggest and most profound risk in genetic engineering. The "Center for Genetics and Society" states it this way.
"We are fast approaching arguably the most consequential technological threshold in all of human history: the ability to alter the genes we pass to our children. Crossing this threshold would irrevocably change the nature of human life and human society. It would destabilize human biology. It would put into play wholly unprecedented social, psychological and political forces that would feed back upon themselves with impacts quite beyond our ability to foresee, much less control.
"Advocates of this new techno-eugenics look forward to the day when parents quite literally assemble their children from genes listed in a catalogue. They celebrate a future in which our common humanity is lost as genetically enhanced elites increasingly acquire the attributes of separate species. The implications for individual integrity and autonomy, for family and community life, for social and economic justice and indeed for world peace are chilling. Once humans begin cloning and genetically engineering their children for desired traits we will have crossed a threshold of no return.
"Advocacy of cloning, inheritable genetic modification and the new eugenics is an integral element of a newly emerging socio-political ideology. . . It embraces commitments to science and technology as autonomous endeavors properly exempt from social control, to the priority of market outcomes, and to a political philosophy grounded in social Darwinist views of human nature and society.
"This ideology is gaining acceptance among scientific, high-tech, media and policy elites. A key foundational text is Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World by molecular biologist Lee Silver of Princeton University. Silver looks forward to a future in which the health, appearance, personality, cognitive ability, sensory capacity and life span of our children all become artifacts of genetic modification. Silver acknowledges that the costs of these technologies will limit their widespread adoption, so that over time society will segregate into the 'GenRich' and the 'Naturals.' In Silver's vision of the future:
'The Ge GenRich - who account for 10 percent of the American population - all carry synthetic genes. All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry are controlled by members of the GenRich class. . . .Naturals work as low-paid service providers or as laborers. . . .[Eventually] the GenRich class and the Natural class will become entirely separate species with no ability to cross-breed, and with as much romantic interest in each other as a current human would have for a chimpanzee.'"
Less profound, but still major concerns are the following:
A relevant question would be to ask if man had the power to create any type of creature(s) he desired with full knowledge of all outcomes, interactions, side effects, etc., would the world be a better place? This can be answered correctly by identifying the answer to another question. Has history shown that man's primary concern is with his fellow man or with wealth, power, fame, greed and control over his fellow man? That answer should be clear. If this scenario would have a bad outcome, how much worse of an outcome would we expect when man is playing tinker toys with a designed genetic code he really doesn't understand.
Research cloning where embryos are destroyed
Reproductive cloning that creates actual human clones
Somatic cell manipulation normally referred to as "gene therapy"
The desire for man to play or be god and recreate man in his own mold, is just the ultimate extension of man wanting to be like god in the Garden of Eden and at the Tower of Babel. If we are not content with what we were created to be, we will suffer the consequences again.
Learn more about Human Genetic Engineering.
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