Scott Altmeyer

 

Frankenstein, we’ve all heard the story. The novel about, the talented scientist, who artificially creates life in the form of a monster. For centuries this book has allowed its audience to escape their world and enter a completely new one. For readers in 2018, this is no longer the case. As humans have continued to modernize, advancements are becoming similar to those achieved by doctor Frankenstein. While in our society, our technology does not allow us to create life unlike Dr. Frankenstein, parallels can be drawn from that fact that modern advancements blur the line between technology and life.

Gene editing is a new development that illustrates how our understanding of technology and life has been complicated. CRISPR-cas9 allows individuals to alter the genome of an embryo. This process can help prevent detrimental genetic diseases, that otherwise could not be treated. In order to perform this procedure, scientists need to locate the gene sequence causing the disorder sequence and alter it so that the gene would no longer code for the defect. While the result of gene editing, curing a disease, is unquestionably positive, the unknown consequences of the process has sparked heated ethical debate.

In order to fully comprehend objections to gene editing, one must understand the function of DNA. DNA is a coding molecule, which contains numerous genes that provide the instructions for life. These “guidelines” are passed on from one generation to the next. Although this transition is not flawless. Overtime mutations of these molecules occur, altering the instructions for life, and ultimately the life form itself. These mutations, while mostly negative, occasionally provide benefits that are passed on to one’s children. This process of evolution only occurs because of these “mistakes”.

In the minds of skeptics, gene editing allows scientists to play the part of God. Concerns arise around the fact that we are interfering with nature. Opponents of gene editing worry that humans should not try and control everything because unknown consequences of these could be detrimental. Incorrectly altering genome sequences could result in an increased risk of cancer, other unintended effects, and unexpected consequences to future generations.[1] This technology essentially allows humans to control parts of evolution. A process that is fundamental to our species prosperity.

[1] https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/06/18/is-gene-editing-dangerous-4-things-you-should-know.aspx