13 June 2011

A few thoughts on the coming eugenics movement

A recent article (Could prenatal DNA testing open Pandora's box?) expresses concern about pervasive testing of the genetics of the fetus to ensure that no undesirable traits are present. It goes without saying that there could be some real problems with this: as one geneticist recently said, we really don't know enough at this point about the contribution of combinations of genes to be manipulating our children's genome. On the other hand, the same concerns could be voiced about the entire modern technological experiment. I also wonder if such manipulations will become necessary to offset the negative effects of modern medicine on the human genome. Each generation, countless of us are born with genetic diseases or dispositions that would have been fatal in the past, but we're able to survive and pass on our genes. My greatest worry is not scientific innovation per se--if it were me, I'd prefer that my child had all of my better genes and none of the defective ones. The biggest problem, as I see it, is that we live in a capitalist system where any scientific innovation will inevitably be retranslated into commodities that appeal to human beings' more selfish and shortsighted motivations.


Vancouver Voyeur said...

I worry really far into the future that insurance companies will demand the best possible specimen be created, because it would be healthier and less likely to cost the insurance company any money during its lifetime. ;-)

Karlo said...

Or perhaps the 27th iteration of the Patriot Act will require that the gene for questioning authority is suppressed.