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Kara Nadine G.

Barriga April 18, 2017


BA Psychology IV STS 40 C TF (3:00-4:30 PM)

Genetic Engineering: Yay or Nay?

I have heard of genetic engineering for quite awhile now but have not been curious
enough to make a stand about it. Watching Gattaca (1997) the first time in class was a bit
complicated for me as I am hard for hearing and the audio that time fell below my threshold
(consider me a perfect example of an invalid in the Gattaca society). With the help of Google and
better audio in the next session, I was able to gather more thoughts about the topic.
Genetic engineering is basically the process of altering genetic material in organisms using
biotechnology in order to make new possible function or substances. This means that with this
technology, it is possible to add genes to body cells (somatic), add genes to human egg, embryo,
or sperm (germline), and create copies of an organism (cloning). In the case of Gattaca, genetic
engineering was used to create a society where discrimination of the natural-born and science-
born existed. Potential children in their society were conceived through genetic manipulation in
order to create perfect humans or people with the best hereditary traits.
In the movie, even valids or people whose DNA were altered to bring out the best traits
showed that genetic selection is, as Dr. Lamar said, not all that they promised. Even if valids
were the favoured kind of people, we saw in the movie that they were not all that perfect in the
end. We had Iris who still had high risk of heart failure and was prohibited from joining deep space
Gattaca mission, Dr. Lamars son who was genetically selected but still had inhibitions, and Anton
who could not stay in the water for long and had to be saved twice by his brother Vincent who
was considered an invalid. Furthermore, what turned me off as well was the atmosphere of the
Gattaca workplace. People looked so bland and boring, almost robotic, in a sense that they looked
like they were part of a great machine. Moreover, the part where Vincents parents met with a
specialist to help make a perfect Anton felt like they were shopping for a wedding dress instead of
birthing a baby and thinking about making it real in the near future makes me uncomfortable.
As attractive as perfect humans seem to be for many, I, personally, do not like genetic
engineering. While there are pros of genetic engineering such as tackling and defeating diseases,
getting rid of all illnesses in our offspring, living longer, and producing new foods, I believe that
diseases or dying is vital for the evolution of mankind and the world in general. I mean the earth
can only sustain so much and, currently, it is already beyond carrying capacity because of us. We
do not need to overburden the earth any longer than we do now. While at the individual level,
genetic engineering makes one live longer, genetic diversity has a direct relation to the fitness
and, as I implied earlier, survivability of various species and populations; as genetic diversity
decreases within a population, so does the fitness and survivability of that population (Wolfe,
2009). If we genetically engineer humankind, we lessen our genetic diversity and it may be
possible to put our species at risk. Do we really need a perfect world with perfect people at the
expense of biodiversity?
In my opinion, I do not want to live in a society where I, my children, my childrens
children, and everyone else have to be perfect in order to find a place in this world. Therefore,
genetic engineering, while a great milestone in the field of science, is not something I wish for in
my lifetime. Many have already tried the road to perfection and I still have not heard of someone
successfully achieving the goal and that is, ironically, perfectly okay. I believe it is the
imperfections of the world that makes it beautiful and I would not have it any other way.

Reference:
Wolfe, C. (2009). Human Genetic Diversity and the Threat to the Survivability of Human
Populations. Ohio University Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics. Retrieved on April
17, 2017 from https://www.ohio.edu/ethics/2003-conferences/human-genetic-diversity-
and-the-threat-to-the-survivability-of-human-populations/.