Is Genetic Engineering Ethical?
Genetic engineering has been debated for years. With further research breakthroughs it raises the question if genetic engineering is ethical and if it should it be allowed for further research. Under strict circumstances genetic engineering should be allowed in order to save billions of dollars for individuals,companies, and governments, treat hereditary condition, and to allow to further research diseases.
As of right now in America, gene editing is not permissible under federal law and can only be funded by private studies. China and Europe are leaders in genetic engineering breakthroughs, leaving American researchers at a disadvantage due to these strict laws the American government has set in place for genetic engineering practices. “Congress has barred the Food and Drug Administration from considering clinical trials involving germline engineering. And the National Institutes of Health is prohibited from funding gene- editing research in human embryos.” (Belluck). With the strict rules set in place by the Food and Drug Administration it leave scientist to wonder what the future holds in regards to embryos that have been genetically modified. Because of these strict rules that don’t allow scientists to use these embryos for research, they cannot make any big breakthroughs that could potentially help millions of people. “The authors say they hope that once the method is optimized and studied with other mutations, officials in the United States or another country will allow regulated clinical trials.” ( Belluck). Many scientists hope that once the technique of genetic editing is perfected with other mutations and diseases that it will be able to be funded and further researched. By Being able to perfect this technique shows it is a reliable alternative that is safer and more effective, they hope that the Food and Drug Administration lifts the ban and will allow further research. “National Academies of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine… determined earlier this year that gene editing of human embryos could be allowed in rare cases when no other options are available- but only to treat diseases.” (Stein). The National Academies of Science and The National Academy of Medicine stated that they were willing to allow genetic engineering to be done in certain and rare cases when there was no other viable option. The other option they were referring to is an operation that would screen an embryo to see if it has any mutation or diseases, allowing parents to decide whether they would want to keep the baby or abort it. This option should not even be considered because there is nothing that can be done to help save these embryos whereas genetic editing would allow you to fix potential mutations or problems so that parents would not have to fact aborting the fetus.
There are numerous genetic diseases that are passed down from parents to kids such as sickle cell, cystic fibrosis, and in some cases early-onset Alzheimer’s. All of this could be permanently fixed with genetic engineering. “More than 10,000 condition can be caused by specific inherited mutations linked to the DNA.” (Belluck). Genetic engineering can help fix up to 10,000 conditions currently affecting numerous families throughout the world. These conditions put unnecessary pressure on families who may not be able to pay for medications and treatment necessary to manage the condition. Gene editing would be able to save not only that first patient, but eliminate the trait going forward. ” But on a broader level, any changes made in the DNA of the embryo would be passed down for generations” (Stein). Any changes made to the blueprint of the embryo could change the family’s future history curing many diseases for future generations. This is important because it could totally eradicate certain diseases in a family’s gene pool so that in further generations the disease could possibly not even exist in most and eventually all populations.
Genetic engineering could potentially help save lower income families by saving them thousands in bills that com with raising a special needs child. “According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, it will take roughly $240,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18. For a special needs child, those expenses can quadruple.” (Guillot). The cost of gene editing is significantly lower, making it more plausible for families to genetically edit those genes out of their embro. Being able to genetically engineer children so that they would not have various mental disabilities could save not only families but the government various health expenses every year. In addition to the expenses it could save families it can also save companies that provide healthcare to their employees. “Autism is now estimated to cost the nation $137 billion per year and it can have a devastating financial blow on families who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for therapy and care.” (Guillot). Autism alone, out of more than 200 plus mental disabilities, cost billions of dollars a year for families to treat. In addition to the financial saving it would help save million of embryos who are aborted due to the fact they are mentally disabled. “Approximately 90% of babies with a definite diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome are aborted” (Bruce). In England 90% of embryos found to have Down Syndrome are aborted, so being able to genetically modify these embryos would save thousands of lives. Not allowing genetic engineering is denying certain embryos a chance to develop and and be born so that they can experience the world is ethically wrong.
In conclusion, gene editing should be allowed under strict circumstances, such as treating hereditary diseases, being allowed to further research, and saving billions for families, companies, and governments. Since the beginning of genetic engineering practices, there have been many other breakthroughs in embryo science. This helps create further questions, such as are humans ready for the full implementations of this technology? What would happen to the human race if there are no major deformations and unwanted mutations? Gene editing needs to be funded and researched as it is the only option to help families and prevent incurable diseases. Not allowing research condones children to preventable suffering and even death by not giving these embryos the cure.