MENU

HOW SHOULD HUMAN GENETIC EDITING TECHNOLOGY BE REGULATED BOTH NOW AND IN THE FUTURE TO ENSURE THAT IT IS USED ETHICALLY?

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Facts About Genetic Engineering:

  • Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or editing, is the practice of altering the genome of an organism.
  • “Genetic engineering” was a term coined in the 1970s to describe the editing and alteration of DNA
  • “As of 2014, there were about 40 countries that discouraged or banned research on germline editing, including 15 nations in Western Europe, because of ethical and safety concerns.”(“What are the Ethical Concerns of Genome Editing?” National Human Genome Research Institute, 3 Aug. 2017, www.genome.gov/about-genomics/policy-issues/Genome-Editing/ethical-concerns. Accessed 19 Apr. 2020.)

The principles of bioethics:

These are the four main concepts which will be used:
Respect for autonomy:

The idea that rational individuals should be allowed to make decisions for themselves, and that no one should act against their choices.

Beneficence:

The idea that actions should only be taken with the intent of benefitting an individual.

Nonmaleficence:

The idea that no actions should be taken which will cause harm to an individual.

Justice:

The idea that everybody should have fair access to resources.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

NOTE: I apologize for the quality of this image, this was the highest resolution at which I was able to download it.

MY RESPONSE:

Opinions on the regulations and use of genetic engineering and CRISPR vary significantly. The main issue regarding this topic is the controversy of non-medical GMs, however, there are compelling arguments for all perspectives. 

I believe that genetic engineering for the purpose of medical treatment should be allowed as soon as possible in order to save the patients who are in need. However, it is essential that they are made aware of the risks and benefits that come with this treatment. This must include the stage of research we are in and the unknown variables which may affect the outcome of treatment, ensuring that informed consent is given. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of healthcare providers to ensure that as little harm as possible comes to the patients, and I feel that the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence for this side of the debate outweigh the risks that could be caused.

However, I feel that genome editing for cosmetic/self-modification purposes should not be permitted. It would almost certainly have some negative effect on society, and there is very little justification for this apart from the fact that we could make ourselves and our children exactly the way we want. Based on this and the information above, making non-medical genetic engineering accessible to the public would violate the principles of justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence. 

WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?

I am curious to see how my project has affected you. In the comments below, I would appreciate it if you shared your response to these three questions!

  1. What worries you most about genome editing technology?
  2. In ten years, do you expect genome editing do have affected your life? 
  3. After reading this study, what do you think the next steps with genetic engineering should be?

Works Cited and Consulted

Share this project
COMMENTS: 3
  1. April 24, 2020 by Maddie

    Hello! I really enjoyed reading your page. It was very interesting to learn more about, and I now have more insight on the problem. One thing that would worry me about genome editing technology is if it would be used solely for a cosmetic purpose like you mentioned. I think this would create an even higher level of the “ideal beauty”, and would create more controversy in our society. I think that in the next ten years, there is a big possibility that genome editing could become more common for genetic engineering for the purpose of medical treatment, but I don’t think it would affect my life personally. Adding on to this, I think the next steps with this genetic engineering would be to really focus on how to prevent illnesses, and specifically in a safe and harmless way.

  2. April 25, 2020 by Cleo

    Hello! Your page was super interesting and informative! When it comes to concerns with genetic editing, I see a lot of potential problems. My first concern would be the abuse of genetic technology for cosmetic purposes. Another concern would be the accessibility and cost of the technology. I think that it would be very easy for CRISPR to become a technology for the wealthy rather than being used across the board when medically necessary. I think that another ethical concern would be safety, as there is a significant possibility of off-target effects. In response to the question of how I could see genetic technology affecting my life in ten years, I am genuinely unsure. I can see how genetic editing could very possibly play a huge role in the future, but I don’t see it having that large of an effect on my life personally. After reading this page, I think that the next steps for genetic editing will be just mastering the technology, as there is still so much that we don’t know.

  3. April 28, 2020 by Kathleen Ralf

    Thank you Iris for this informative project. When reading through your information I am reminded of Dystopian novels and movies. One in particular was Gattaca where a man who was conceived naturally was actually at the bottom of the social pyramid due to his “non-perfect” genes. As you say there is so much help that this kind of work could do for medicine, but in the wrong hands, we could do great harm to society as a whole. I hope we never see a world of carbon copies or a world where the rights to genetic procedures that could save lives is only given to the wealthy.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.