April 20, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Hofstra on Senior Night, 11-6 -

Saturday, April 19, 2014

VIDEO: UMass United Rally in support of Derrick Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Friday, April 18, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Genetically modified humans raise ethical concerns

Researchers in New Jersey recently revealed that 30 healthy babies were born after an experimental modification of their genetic material. While movies depicting the future tend to focus on flying cars and other things that clearly haven’t occurred, one thing that imaginative screenwriters were right about is the genetic modification of humans.

Stefan Pasch/Flickr

Over the past three years, “babies were born to women who had problems conceiving … as a result of one experimental programme at the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St Barnabas in New Jersey,” writes Michael Hanlon in the Daily Mail. “Extra genes from a female donor were inserted into their eggs before they were fertilised in an attempt to enable them to conceive.”

Basically, there are three individuals involved: two women and a man, rather than just a woman and a man. During this process, the eggs are taken from the additional woman. Doctors, “using a fine needle, (suck) some of the internal material — containing ‘healthy’ mitochondria — and (inject) it into eggs from the women wanting to conceive,” according to Hanlon. Some women are infertile because of defects in mitochondria— small formations in their egg cells that contain DNA. This experimental transfer of mitochondria creates an alternative for those wishing to have children.

I don’t consider genetic modification to be a problem in this case because, even though it is unnatural, there are many things about modern childbirth that can be unnatural. This experimental process allows for people who wouldn’t naturally be able to have babies to have them. If the parents are guaranteed to pass down a gene that could harm the well-being of the baby, that gene can now be avoided. If someone wants to have a baby of their own, rather than adopt, this is another option for them.

A potential problem is that, according to Hanlon, “geneticists fear that one day this method could be used to create new races of humans with extra, desired characteristics such as strength or high intelligence.”

This is a legitimate concern. If we can control what our children will be like, wouldn’t we do everything in our power to create the best being that they can possibly be? There should be a limit that doctors and scientists place regarding the extent of control that future parents have over the genetics of their future children. “GM babies” shouldn’t be created to make the best baby — that defeats survival of the fittest and will create an unbalanced society.

There have been some criticisms and controversy surrounding these genetically modified babies. Hanlon quoted Lord Winston of the Hammersmith Hospital in West London telling the BBC: “Regarding the treat-ment of the infertile, there is no evidence that this technique is worth doing … I am very surprised that it was even carried out at this stage. It would certainly not be allowed in Britain.”

Due to the morals and views involved in the decision, it is difficult to justify genetically modifying a pregnancy, especially in the early stages. I think it should not be allowed as long as both parents are genetically healthy; if we do, we are then scientifically altering beings simply because we can. I would define “genetically healthy” as having no harmful hereditary diseases or mutations present that could be passed down to the child. We can’t prevent cancer and other common, unpredictable diseases. It would cause the impregnating process to become too complex if people were to check everything that could possibly go wrong with their baby beforehand and then try to fix it through genetic modification.

As with any new procedure, I still question the degree of danger in genetically modifying humans. This is an ethical dilemma, because while some believe that childbirth should be natural, others, like those who found this experiment to work, believe modifications can improve society and their lives.

Karen Podorefsky is Collegian columnist. She can be reached at kpodoref@umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Genetically modified humans raise ethical concerns”
  1. Vladimir Joseph Stephan Orlovsky says:

    “Natural”.. hmmm, let’s close all hospitals, and let Nature take its course.. wait a minute, Let me think .. oops, No, I do Not think, this is a good idea. -Vladimir Joseph Stephan Orlovsky

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