Until recently, gene editing was restricted to hybrid varieties of plants that produced higher yield and was immune to diseases. With the advancement in science and technology, it has now become possible to edit human genes.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of human gene editing, which are predictable and can drastically alter the lives of people according to experts.
Pros Of Human Gene Editing
1. Fighting and Preventing Diseases
Genetic engineering can fight and cure some of the deadly and difficult to treat diseases caused by genetic mutations. For instance, immunotherapy can be developed with the aid of gene editing for treating cancer. Technology like CRISPR will assist in modifying T-cells to locate and demolish cancer cells. With this technology, scientists can also prevent the passage of hereditary diseases from parents to offsprings. Furthermore, CRISPR can contribute to drug research by boosting drug research and recovery processes.
2. Extend Lifespan
Human lifespan has already gone up with advancement in medical science. More so ever, it can get much better and longer with the introduction of human genetic editing. Many illnesses and diseases to which humans become prone to with old age can be eliminated with genetic engineering. It can also alter fundamental elements that cause a natural decline of the body on the cellular level and quality of human life.
3. Food Production
Both the quality and quantity of food produced can be improved with genetic engineering. We can design crops that can survive the harsh atmosphere, pests and famines, and are full of the right nutrients. Moreover, it can aid in addressing heavy food demand and reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture.
Cons Of Human Gene Editing
1. Ethical Dilemma
Many people believe that gene editing is interfering with nature and equates to playing god. According to them, falling ill and prematurely death is perfectly natural. Moreover, eliminating all diseases and increasing longevity of human life means adding more humans to already overpopulated planet.
2. Safety Concerns
Smallest changes in genetic makeup can lead to unpredictable results. Again experimenting on embryo’s that are still in the womb can lead to complications such as stillbirth, miscarriage, physical defects, or immature birth. Although genetic engineering can demolish existing diseases, it can also introduce new and much more harmful ones.
All animals have diverse genetics, which acts as a critical factor for their evolution. Genetically modifying human species can have an adverse effect on our genetic diversity, just like cloning. Therefore, elimination of ethnicity and diversity in coming years is yet another threat of gene editing.
Gene therapy is very expensive, and only the rich can afford it. If tomorrow it becomes possible to eliminate defective genetic code from the embryo, will it be accessible to poor and rich equally? Will governments take the responsibility of paying for genetic editing of the children of low-income families for prevailing justice in society?
Although human genetic engineering has its pros and cons, the implication of stringent laws and controlled usage can be a huge blessing for the future of humankind.
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