Throughout
our evolution we have relied on natural selection to make the changes in our
genetic makeup. However, scientist have just recently discovered a way for us
to change that. One of the rising new innovations in today’s modern society is
the use of genetic engineering. Since the discovery of DNA and its storage of
genetic makeup, we have the capability of altering genes to create new
substances or new functions. With the invention of CRISPR-cas9, a gene editing
device, it has made this process simple. The whole idea of genetic engineering
is removing a damaged strand of DNA and repairs it with a copy of DNA from
another source not from that organism to enhance the capabilities of it. This results
in an enhanced version of that organism. Since genetic engineering is a recent
discovery, it has only been tested on animals, plants, and medicine, but not
yet humans. Also, because genetic engineering is in its initial stages, many
people are more concerned of the dangers that this can bring to our society in
the future. There are many ethical and moral consideration that comes to place
with this new advancement and how we decide to approach it. Although genetic
engineering has its benefits in our society, the negative consequences that
could possibly be acquired poses a great ethical issues to our society.

            Gene editing has shed a light of
hope to our society in areas such as medicine and in agriculture. For example,
the genetic disorder known as sickle cell might be one of the first diseases to
be cured by genetic engineering. In the United
States, roughly 100,000 people have sickle cell disease, most of them living a
short life around 40 to 60 years of age (Mullin). The thing about sickle
cell disease is that it’s rooted in a person’s genes, meaning that diseases are
involuntary, and scientist can’t do anything about it because its inherited
through the parents. However, in recent
experiments with patients, scientist discovered that 85 percent of the damaged
genes could be successfully edited and transformed to create new healthy red
blood cells (Mullin). This significantly would eliminate patients who
suffer from sickle cell worldwide. With the use of genetic engineering, we can
possibly cure most human related genetic disorders. That would be a huge
benefit for patients dealing with these types of diseases, but it’s something
that rarely been done in medical research. Obviously using genetic engineering
for diseases is a true no brainer, because this can result in a society where
disease practically doesn’t exist anymore. Aside from being used in medical
research, genetic engineering has already had its benefits in agriculture. With the use of genetic engineering, it enables
scientist to produce crops that are resistant to herbicides, take a longer
amount of time to ripen, and produce more yield and profit (“Genetic Engineering”).
This is very important to our society because humans main source of energy is
acquired through foods. With the demand of food constantly increasing, it is
important to maintain the population with more food. But keeping up with the
high demand isn’t as simple because it takes way too long to naturally
cultivate and produce crops. Therefore, genetic engineering was tested on foods
and animals to produce more mass production. Using genetic engineering to
enhance crops to produce more, ultimately revolutionizes agriculture. No longer
would we be dealing with old traditional practices of agriculture, we would
take agriculture and allow genetic engineering to enhance it. Genetic
engineering has made significant advances in both medicine and agriculture
which in just a short amount of time has positively impacted our society.

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            Aside from the benefits of it,
genetic engineering can change the overall societal perspective on disabled
people. Genetic engineering is on its way to enhancing the lives of many
disabled humans through fixing common disabilities found at birth. Although
CRISPR would only be used to cure “serious diseases,” in the future it could be
used to prevent all disabilities known to us. Although this is an obvious
benefit, most disabled people won’t be benefiting from the use of genetic
engineering due to their low economic status. In
fact, from the years of 2000 to 2013, the unemployment rate for disabled people
has grown nearly 80 percent (Cameron). So, in this matter, disabled
people won’t be able to benefit from the use of gene editing. The innovation of
gene editing would bring inequity to disabled people because they are not able
to afford it. “Some people with
disabilities eagerly await gene therapies. But many people are concerned that
the increasing use of genetic technologies in this context reflects and
reinforces societal assumptions that disability is always harmful and should be
prevented (Benjamin).” As we broaden the capacity to be able to control diseases,
the problem comes when there are assumptions of which lives are worth keeping
or not in this planet. And to guarantee a world where optimal health is
prevalent, most of the disabled people would fall in the category of those
humans who should be discarded off society. Ultimately, with the innovation of
genetic technologies, the concern is that disabled people would fall in a less
valued class in our society. This creates a new level of discrimination and
prejudice that is placed on the lives of disabled people. Ableism, which is a
view that disabled people are inferior to those who are able-bodied, will
continue to grow and perhaps get worse, disempowering those who are affected by
disabilities. All in all, the innovations of genetic engineering make us
reflect on the ethical issues that perhaps could affect disabled people in the
future.

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