Scientists in the world are quickly deciphering the genetic coding of life, making mysteries on the biological evolution of human beings dating to millions of years being unlocked. The immense advances in the biotech industry has made Global life science companies ready to exploit the economic benefits that will be enjoyed in this century which is presumed to be a Biotech century. Arguably, the new commercial genetics industry will have the biggest impact in this century than any other field of study. In fact, in less than 10 years, global life science companies will be holding patents on the more than 30,000 genes that make up the human race. In addition, they will be holding patents for organs, cell lines and tissues, giving them the ultimate power of dictating the terms by which the future generations live their daily lives. It is for this reason that I believe that eugenics will be the most defining social dynamic of the century due to the numerous solutions it promises and has already started to offer to the human race.
‘In our bodies our technologies’, Ray Kurzwel explains numerous technologies that will allow human beings to control their bodies and its biological predispositions. He predicts how technological advancements by the year 2020 will have led to the use of micro cell-sized devices that would be able to go inside our bodies and up to the brain to perform different therapeutic functions. It is a major breakthrough by how far we have gone into understanding life processes such as diseases, ageing, and gaining tools and procedures on how to manipulate them. This means that a long and healthy life has been assured to mankind. Human beings would no longer rely on natural selection and the ‘survival for the fittest’ ideology as Charles Darwin had suggested. Life would be much more easier to live if the biotech developments that Ray Kurzwel anticipates would come to pass.
Another major advantage that comes with the modern eugenics and the biotechnology progress is a process referred to as miniaturization (Ray 10). With this process, we are showing the possibility of actually constructing a myriad of things at the molecular level that can ultimately enable us to perfom different useful functions. To show the feasibility of eugenics, Rob Freitas has already developed a nanorobitic red blood cell that has the ability to store and let out oxygen. With his invention in action, if you were to replace just 10% of your red blood cells with this designed respirocytes, one would be able to do Olympic sprints for more than 15 minutes without even taking a breath, or sitting down at the bottom of a swimming pool for 4hours. This genetic engineering breakthrough is very beneficial to the large numbers of patients that are suffering from oxygen deficiency diseases such as headaches, asthma and cancer, In fact oxygen is the food to the brain and should never run out or be in low supply.
It may appear very futuristic how 2020 would be a turning point in the biotechnology field. The computers that we use nowadays would disappear and be integrated into our clothing and environment (Ray 9). A design of a robotic white blood cell is already underway, this will be a bit complicated since it will be able to download different software from the internet so as to combat germs and disease causing pathogens. I know it may Sound too good to be true? But It is worth noting that there are almost similar dozens of neural implants that the FDA has already approved to be tested in human beings. Already an implant that replaces the neurons destroyed by the Parkinson’s disease has already been approved by the FDA. Therefore it appears that by 2020’s , it will be the non-biological portion of our civilization that will be pre- dominant.
Unlike the 20th century eugenics, which was harmful and inhuman since they involved the mass killing of individuals who were deemed genetically unfit in order to stop them from reproducing and filling the society with undesirable genetic characteristics, the modern eugenics are solely driven by the desire to scientifically improve on the human gene to a better and more desirable form. The modern eugenics take different forms such as Vitro fertilization, surrogacy, gene therapy, germ-line therapy, cloning, and the most recent form being the mitochondria transfer. Though the federal government has not openly supported eugenics, they have not yet put any strict measure to curb this rapidly growing multi-billion industry. Statics show that since 1990, the number of women who give birth from donor eggs has risen by more than 78% and with the largest population being women between the ages 35-45.
However, I acknowledge that most of this practice and advancement in biotechnology mostly face more criticism than support from the same people it is intended to benefit. Among the most controversial parts of eugenics is the prospect of conducting human germ therapy. The thought of programming genetic changes in the human germ line so as to direct the evolutionary developments of the future generations raises unprecedented moral, social and environmental risks for the whole of the human race. To counter this claim, Dr. Burke Zimmerman in his journal of medicine and philosophy comes out strongly to defend germ line cell therapy over somatic cell therapy. He argues that somatic cell therapy will only be responsible in increasing survivors with defective genes in their germ lines and passing it to succeeding generations.
Eugenics allows parents to carefully analyze the traits that they would wish to be transferred to their offspring. Giving people the ability to decide on how their offspring will look like is one of the best gifts the 21st century has endowed to our parents. A notable writer in the New York times, Peggy Orenstein , explained in her article Your gamete, myself how a woman using these services is able to pick through a book looking at the pictures of other women and choosing from whose eggs she finds desirable based on the eye color, hair color or even through the GPA (Peggy 8). This is just the tip of what genetic engineering can be able to do for us in order to unchain us from transferring some characteristics that we highly do not desire to be inherited by our offspring.
Having based my arguments on logical facts, I highly believe that genetic engineers should be accorded both the moral and financial support they deserve to enable them to effectively conduct researches that will eventually help alleviate the a myriad of unspoken suffering that most people might be going through but just persevere due to lack of an alternative. I came to this conclusion because I believe that anything that is made or can be used for the betterment of the society and the human race at large should be supported.
Orenstein, Peggy. "Your gamete, myself." New York Times 15 (2007).
Ray Kurzwell,’ Our bodies,our technologies’.. March 16, 2006 web April 11,2013
Rifkin, J. "Ultimate Therapy." Harv. Int. Rev., Cambridge: Spring 27.1 (2005): 44-49.