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The Dangers Of Commercialized Getenic Engineering Essay, Research Paper

The Dangers Of Commercialized Getenic Engineering

“How many ideas have there been in the history of mankind which were unthinkable ten years before and which, when their mysterious hour struck suddenly appeared, and spread all over the earth?

Dostoyevsky

Ask any couple of child-rearing age and they will tell you how important it is to have healthy, intelligent children. Eugenics is defined by Jonas Robitscher in his book Eugenic Sterilization as “The science of improvement of the human race by better breeding it is the Eugenicist s hope to create a society in which each child would be born with vigorous health and able mind through the propagation of those with desirable traits”. It is safe to assume that the American culture as a whole believes that handicaps or severe aberrations in physical attributes are not ideals in procreation. Many consider genetic engineering to be a worthwhile solution to these aberrations. This is not such an unnatural idea and it leads to some interesting ethical questions. Could genetic engineering erase deformities, abolish disease, and even eliminate undesirable traits? This question is gaining a more resounding “yes!” with every passing decade. Geneticists now regularly advise young couples on their options concerning their children and their children s health. Doctors can now go so far as to give their clients the option between male and female children. Technologies now exist that allow men and women to decide how their children will turn out. Although these trends have been met with some religious contempt and undoubtedly pose some troubling ethical dilemmas they will probably continue to gain public acceptance, thanks to the growing predominance of humanistic ideals in our culture. As this phenomena continues to spread one must ask the question of whether these principles of selective breeding and methodical removal of undesirable traits be applied on a grander scale to improve everyone s quality of life. This type of intervention made perhaps by state or local governments would have powerful effects on our society and they way we think about what is favorable and unfavorable. Such standardized genetic alterations could essentially give everyone qualities that cause more a fulfilling and content existence. Psychological disorders and chemical dependencies such as alcoholism, obesity, and depression could be curbed within the very womb. Our culture could, through these methods, choose to improve itself – making a more healthy and intelligent society. Robitscher urges “Only superior children should be desired and conceived not primarily because of innate paternal or maternal urgings but because the couple desires to perform a service to mankind by having as well-endowed children as possible.” In essence, it would be a move towards conscious evolution; a fully planned and tested way of improving life for all humanity.

Science isn t very far from discovering and implementing ways to take these genetic improvements to the next level. In his book Eugenics and the Welfare State, Gunnar Broberg clarifies the issue with his interpretation of Eugenics, “Eugenics is defined as human biology applied with special regard for future generations”. The government allows companies to put fluoride in your water – who would really complain if they added a gene to suppress obesity or cancer? The questions that remain are; is it really feasible and would it be acceptable to the public mindset?

To control the water supply isn t a difficult thing. It is already done meticulously across the nation so it would not be incredibly difficult to add genetic altering material.

Unfortunately, the general public is very fearful of government agendas. No one feels safe with the knowledge that their government is practicing top secret procedures behind its back. A major argument used to refute eugenic ideals is the “slippery slope”. This mentality basically says that while certain actions may seem rational, they can lead to other more dangerous actions (such as the sterilization of homosexuals). Any legislation of this nature would definitely cause some paranoia about government manipulation, secret conspiracies, etc. But if people were properly educated they would react favorably to these sort of changes. Of course, the legislation that would put these practice would also be obligated to set limits as to how extreme they may become.

What could happen, if this were left to the private sector, if such genetically engineered genes were sold to the public? Then the wealthier would be the ones with access and their children may have significant advantages over other children. This discrepancy would cause a lot of social problems as well as possibly creating distinct classes of people – the superior genetically enhanced and the inferior, diseased humans. Certainly, the solution would be a free implementation of genetic engineering; a basic public service.

These sort of ethical questions will certainly be approached in the coming years as medicine and public health continue to make great advances. The question isn t whether these things will happen but how.

Works Cited

Brantlinger, Ellen. Sterilization of People with Mental Disabilities. Westport, CT: Auburn House, 1995.

Broberg, Gunnar. Eugenics and the Welfare State. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1996.

Chadwick, Ruth F. Ethics, Reproduction, and Genetic Control. New York, NY: Routledge, 1994.

Robitscher, Jonas. Eugenic Sterilization. Springfield, MA: Bannerstone House, 1973.

Quotes on Eugenics. Quotes on Eugenics. Lycos, www.lycos.com, 1998.


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