Ethics of Human Genetic Enhancement
Genetic enhancement refers to the use of genetic engineering to modify a human’s traits in a way that will benefit them. Although genetic enhancement is capable of providing numerous benefits to the human species, there are a number of concerns that make it a highly debatable topic. While there are some valid claims against genetic enhancement in humans, the benefits outweigh the concerns. As these points are further explored, it will become obvious that human genetic enhancement provides many valuable improvements to human society as a whole and thus should be further researched.
Among the many facets of human life, athletic ability is among the most important. For many years, humans have longed to improve their bodies and achieve physical greatness. This can be seen in the way humans greatly celebrate physical competition, such as Usain Bolt’s 9.58s 100m or the Mr. Olympia tournament. As shown in Ronald Evans’ study on genetically engineered life, “Mice engineered to express more PPARδ in their muscle acquired the ability to run up to twice the distance of normal mice … This work demonstrates that complex physiologic properties such as fatigue, endurance, and running capacity can be genetically manipulated” (“Nuclear Receptors in Physiology and Disease”). If this method of physically enhancement was applied to humans, athletes would become greatly improved. As humans so greatly value physical fitness, faster, better, and stronger athletes would mean more exciting games, and thus provide more entertainment to viewers (“Human Genetic Enhancement”). Another area of life where this benefit is commonly overlooked is everyday life. Common activities such as travelling, transporting goods, and even sleeping would be improved in various manners. It would also mostly eliminate the need for exercise; it would no longer be necessary in order to maintain a minimum amount of fitness. Kathi E. Hanna states in her study on genetic engineering in humans, “A treatment to build up muscles would allow us to remain able-bodied and independent much longer. IGF-1, another muscle-building hormone, has produced increased muscle mass in laboratory mice. [This] could produce an equally impressive effect in humans” (“Genetic Enhancement”). This muscle enhancer would allow for the elimination of exercise, freeing up time for other activities. Since it has already been proven effective in laboratory mice, scientists will now have to find the safest way of transferring it to humans. Yet another reason as to how genetic enhancement will improve the lives of humans is by recovery. Those who experience muscle atrophy as a result of an illness will be able to quickly recover their muscle mass by using the IGF-1 gene. It is clear that genetic enhancement will greatly benefit humans physically.
Human genetic enhancement also has the capability of extending lifespan. Life extension generally refers to the study of slowing down or...