Ethical or Unethical: Genetically Engineering Embryos
Scientists are still torn whether the practice of genetically engineering embryos is unethical or ethical, citing that such practices has huge implications to society whether it is moral or not.
Despite better understanding, the concept of genetically modifying humans are still torn between two fronts – those in favor and those who believe it as unethical. On the one hand, advocates of genetically engineering say that these methods can help exterminate a potentially fatal disease. Many, however, maintain that this crosses the ethical line as any genetic changes are not just limited to the embryo, it will also be passed down to future generations.
Where to draw the line in playing God
Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health said that ‘the concept of altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspective.’ He, however, makes it a point that the view is universally agreed as a line that ‘should not be crossed.’
Genetically modifying embryos face ethical and religious opposition throughout the world and many scientific circles. Despite this, supporters are arguing that it is necessary thing. Dr. Tony Perry, who strongly pioneers cloning, says that it is a ‘sin of omission, if you have a method where you can prevent someone suffering and you don’t take that opportunity then it is wrong.’ He further states that such a thing would be ‘unethical’.
Advances in technology have given scientists many ways to carry out genome editing, and though there are many arguments against this, many have actually carried it out. China recently surprised and at the same time appalled a lot of people after it announced that it had successfully genetically engineered embryos, modifying it in such a way to get rid of the fatal blood disorder thalassaemia.
Many critics, such as Human Genetics Alert Director Dr. David King, says that there is a ‘need for an immediate global ban on the creation of genetically modified designer babies.’ He further explains that there should be regulations to avoid a potential future where human eugenics are so widespread that ‘the rich can buy themselves a baby with built-in genetic advantages.’ Many are also questioning if there is even a point to genetic modification, taking China’s case as an example and citing that there are already many ways to avoid thalassaemia.
Despite its good intentions, many are saying that people should draw the line between playing God and simply observing as Darwin intended.