There are two types of people in this world. People who hate peas…and people who are peas.
This is a good place to begin if you’d like to learn how DNA, our genes and genetic variations works. Gregor Mendel, the former abbot and a XIX century monk was the one who worked out the fundamental principles of genetic inheritance. Thanks to peas we can read the DNA, information about the body, health and diseases.
But human beings are not a product of the genetic recipe book.
We are more complicated than peas…
Like a kid who’s just stumbled on his father’s cool toolbox, the allure of human DNA modification can sometimes seem too attractive to ignore. And this has captivated our minds so much that it’s been the theme of several science fiction films.
Let’s take “X-Men” – mutant humans exist amongst us with varying levels of gargantuan superpowers. Cool? Yeah… Whether realistic or ludicrous, the movie reveal something deeper – our innate fascination with human upgrade via DNA enhancement.
But why are scientists so slow in pursuing breakthroughs in this regard?
creation of designer babies
Even if we don’t get to shoot lasers from our eyes or run at 40 miles per hour, shouldn’t we be trying to do something useful with our knowledge of DNA? How about we work towards creating genetically-engineered bodies that just never get fat? Or perfect brains, so our husbands always remember our anniversary? Imagine the number of genetic diseases that could potentially be wiped out from humanity, if scientists would just get a grip.
The desire to keep improving and innovating is what has brought mankind this far. I mean, the first computer was as large as a cargo truck, but look what we have nowadays.
If we can modify and improve computers, we should be able to modify humans, right?
First of all, it’s important to realize that nature takes care of these upgrades by a careful and (possibly) intelligent process called evolution – which takes BILLIONS of years. Attempting to speed up the process by DNA tweaking is akin to a cook trying to prepare her own thanksgiving turkey in 1 minute.
It often ends in disaster…
The questions surrounding genetic modification have arisen for decades now, and they are worthy of serious discourse. Let’s look at cloning for example: deciding to create cloned/designer babies can potentially open up a can of worms which can be difficult to reverse. First of all, it could create a gap in society and set off delicate ethical dilemmas. They could also be at risk of some previously-unknown viral or genetic diseases which could throw humanity into chaos.
Are we ready for this? I think not.
Mankind has always been an innovative species, blazing trails in wildernesses and leaving development in its wake. But one has to wonder, should there be a limit to our expeditions?
What bridge do we cross, where we begin to play God?
These are some of the questions that would need answering as we guard our sanity in the wake of unpredictable new technologies. As Oliver Twist taught us, more isn’t always better.
The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers. Lewis Thomas
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