Will knowing more about our genes lead to benefits for all?

  • Knowledge comes first

    Knowledge about our genetic code, and the specific genetic codes of any individual, needs to be made accessible before any real gains in science and treatments are to be made. Knowledge of genes is crucial to predicting and stopping potentially dangerous diseases and disorders before they manifest, or treating already existing issues.

  • Genetic Knowledge Is Important

    Knowing our genetic makeup will be highly valuable in making good health decisions. Genes make some people susceptible towards certain diseases and more resistant to others. The more scientists can figure out how genetics works, the more they can create targeted treatments that will lead to the better health of many.

  • It depends on how the new information we gain will be used.

    One can clearly see that advancements in technology involving genetics have allowed us to learn more about our genomes, how genes are expressed, and how heritability works. In addition, they allow us to see how mutations work and their impact on individual development and the evolution of different species. However, we cannot overlook the fact that these advancements and new technologies could be manipulated in ways that are detrimental to humans and other organisms. This potential danger is illustrated well in the movie “Gattaca,” where genetically modified babies are common, allowing parents to choose which traits they want in their offspring. Moreover, after being born, genetic tests are taken straight away, informing parents of all the traits of the baby, both the good and the bad. This also includes diseases they will acquire, in addition to their predicted life expectancy. Consequently, when applying for jobs and other positions, you are judged based on your genes, rather than your experience or past. This therefore shows how not all genetic technology and advancements are always beneficial. Furthermore, there have been ethical questions raised regarding the use of stem cells from embryos to help with scientific research and medicine, as these cells are able to differentiate into any possible body cell. This allows scientists to create organs and replace destroyed or lacking cells in an individual. Are the effects of the extraction of some stem cells from embryos very detrimental? Is it our right to take such crucial cells away from an organism about to develop into a human? If the embryo does not survive, is this considered murder? Such controversial questions show how not all the effects of genetic technology is considered beneficial, or even acceptable by some. Knowing and being able to do more is not tantamount to better development and achieving better results. There have also been issues where being able to alter genes and insert mutations has had drastic effects on organisms. In addition, there are debates about how GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food could be having a negative impact on us, even increasing the risk of cancer in some cases. However, I do not think that these problems take away from the advantages of genetic advancements, but rather I believe that they illustrate the need to be careful regarding how this new information and technologies are being used.

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