Eugenics has been around for quiet a while. It goes as far back as ancient Greece. The more modern type of Eugenics started in the United Kingdom in the 20th century. After that it started to become more popular and spread to many other countries such as Canada, The United States, and some countries in Europe. Eugenics includes things such as testing couples, babies for hereditary diseases, and gene editing. I am mostly focusing on gene editing in this paper.
Ways to modify genes have been around for a few decades but they just recently discovered a new method that is faster, cheaper, and more effective that is called: CRISPR. More people want to see gene editing in people but this method is mostly used in more basic forms. This includes editing yeast, bacteria, mice, zebrafish, and a few other things that have led to lots of discoveries like how the genomes is connected to traits we as humans carry such as disease, eye color, hair color, and other things like that.
Throughout the years, the way scientists actually edit the gene is by using several different methods. One of them is called homologous. This is the earliest method scientists used to edit genes in living cells. This is an exchange of information in the genes that are alike. They discovered this in the 1970’s. Organisms like yeast can preform this naturally. To do this in a lab you have to isolate DNA. After isolating it you can use special chemicals to inject and take up cells. Another form is Zinc-finger nucleus (ZFN) this helps improve exactness of genome editing, and another, transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), which is a class of proteins. The last one is called clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats or (CRISPR) for short. ZFN and TALEN are much more effective. They are very complicated to preform and also extremely expensive. Every edit must have a new ZFN and TALEN protein. The problem with this is that creating a protein is very difficult and prone to error. This is why CRISPR is an all around better process. It is much simpler. A group of scientists found that ZFNS’s and TALEN’s are six times less effective then CHRISPR. Big gene projects used to take many years and thousands of dollars but they can now be done in way less time and with less money.
In the past, Eugenics was mostly used to improve the genetics of the population. People who mostly used it were people who were unable to reproduce, people with mental or physical disabilities, criminals, and people who were disliked by many. The Nazi’s were not a fan of eugenics because they thought that the U.S. eugenics were different than the Nazi eugenics. The Nazi’s were not the only ones who disagreed with eugenics though. There are many people out there who don’t agree with it. “A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of weather “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to loss of genetic variation.” This is basically saying that some people are against it because 1. Eugenics can be used for good for bad. 2. Eugenics can easily be abused if you aren’t careful. 3. There won’t be much difference in people because their genes won’t be different. In a more recent study Americans strongly disagree with the new technology of enhancing the looks or intelligence of babies using the “designer baby” method. They are not against trying to improve the technology of gene editing in case of an emergency where that technology would be necessary, but for now most people are having their doubts about changing a babies genes before it is born. Here are a few charts to show what people think about the idea of gene editing.
While there are many against it there are also many people who are for it. There are also some people who are on the fence about it. There was a poll taken at Harvard about what they thought about it and most of them didn’t have a firm opinion on what they thought.
As I said earlier most Americans are against this. Some are saying that using it to get rid of disease is great but it should not be used for enhancement yet. So this is a very controversial topic to say the least. In the first chart above 83% of the people say that making the baby more intelligent is taking medical advances to far, but 15% of the people say that is it appropriate. In the second chart more people are on the fence about what they think. A lot say that they are “somewhat” enthusiastic or worried. The ones that are for it also have many concerns about the subject as well such as whether there won’t be enough genetic variation.
As for my opinion I am very against the idea. As a Christian I think it is interfering with God’s plan. God designed us exactly how we were meant to be whether that be with genetic diseases or not. Even though it could be helpful to eliminate those diseases God made some of us with, it’s not our place to interfere with that. I think that eliminating diseases is a little bit more understandable than the “designer baby” concept though. In the bible it says, “As for God, his way is perfect…” God made everything perfect and changing what he has made it very disrespectful to Him. God made no mistake in making us no matter how we see it. No matter how much we want to take control and do things the way we want to this is one of those things that is up to God. When you’re not looking through a Christian point of view I can see how this would make sense and be the logical thing to do. Another reason I don’t support the idea of editing a baby’s genes is because God made us to all be different and unique and that could change if everyone was intelligent, athletic, artistic, etc. Life would be boring if we all looked the same, acted the same, or liked all the same things. The difference in us all is what makes life interesting.
Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
All these verses are perfect examples of how God created us just the way he wanted us without gene editing being necessary.