Essays on Designing Babies, Deborah Spar Article

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Does genetic engineering somehow dehumanize the parents and children involved in genetic manipulation? Or is it simply an advancement of our species? Spar (213, 216) indicates genetic engineering is a process that results into a change of one’s genetic composition for medical benefits via use of gene therapy. Spar (214) argues gene therapy is achieved through use of germ-line cells (germ-line therapy) and somatic cells (somatic-line therapy). Spar (212-237) provides that medical genetic engineering involves extraction of genetic sample suspected to contain abnormalities, diagnosis of genes responsible for genetic diseases or abnormalities and correction of the genetic defects through targeted insertion of new genes with superior desirable qualities.

Spar (223) indicates medical genetic engineering is carried through combined extraction of reproductive cells, in vitro-fertilization, embryo screening for genetic defects or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. This essay looks into consequences of designing human beings, benefits obtained from designer baby genetic engineering experiments, level and role of government in controlling medical genetic engineering experiments and if children should be created in order to ensure their siblings and relatives lead a better life. Spar (216) indicates Ancient Greece genetic engineering was in the past been used to steer human breeding where children with unwanted characteristics were left to die, infants with physical deformities were killed at birth and check up of babies by council of elders in Sparta after birth was used as a measure of a child’s potential to be of help to the state.

Spar (216) and Roosevelt (282-291) indicate human breeding led into imposition of sterilization for people who exhibited characteristics associated with criminality and illiteracy based on argument that ‘it was better to prevent defective offspring from being born than supporting them through life’.

Spar (227) indicates that genetic engineering is associated with misdiagnosis that can lead into genetic problems. For instance, if the inserted gene takes precedence over the regulator gene in the DNA, then regulator gene fails to carry out its biological role. The DNA regulator gene codes for a repressor substance that inhibits operator gene when an enzyme for a metabolic reaction is not required. The DNA promoter region activates structural gene under the influence of regulator gene.

If a mistake occurs during insertion and targets the mechanisms of regulator gene, synthesis of enzymes may go on uninterrupted leading into cancerous condition or autoimmunity. There are also fears that the inserted gene may become part of an intron (forming a parasitic portion of a DNA that will end up being reproduced into generations and which is translated into messenger RNA but discarded during translation. A single faulty base in one intron has been shown to cause short defective β-haemoglobin to be released which is not properly edited and spliced. If this happens to a homozygous recessive person, the person suffers from thalassaemia major which is characterized by anemia, growth retardation and other genetic abnormalities that affect the health of the subject.

Galton (35) argues that genetic engineering could be used to catalyze eugenics efforts; necessity to produce people with particular characteristics (Spar 216-220). Genetic engineering can be used to transfer debilitating diseases to people of inferior qualities. Spar (220) indicates genetic engineering and need for human breeding led into imposition of involuntary euthanasia in patients who had genetic debilitating diseases.

Additionally, Spar (220) provides that human breeding based on social objectives led into marking of children with positive or negative signs to indicate their possibility to live or die respectively.

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