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Genetic Manipulation And Human Evolution

Posted by DeadAnarchistPhil on March 2, 2011

I watched Horizan: Are We Still Evolving? on BBC Two last night and I have to say, I found it interesting and was a little shocked at the fact modern-day geneticists at the LA Fertility Institutes are screening embryos for genetic diseases and sex for the ultimate, and actual, aim of IVF transplantation. I’m not shocked because I’m against it, because I think with strict regulation it could save and improve the Human Race. I was shocked because these geneticists are allowed to do it, I always thought any manipulation of the Human embryo was banned beyond a certain stage and could not be transplanted in to a Human Womb.

Have a look at this:

With the advent of modern medicines that weaken the Human race because it removes natural selection and the constant battle going on between us and our only efficient and natural predator left, microbial life forms, I think genetic Manipulation of future generations would be a good thing. But only if the technology was safe to use and regulated so Humanity wouldn’t breed a genetic underclass or start adding all kinds of animal adaptions that are foreign to our active genetic code. I believe, if we start doing that we cease being the Human race and become something entirely different. But improving our genetics, so we have a stronger, healthier and more intelligent Human species can only be a good thing. How could it possibly be a bad thing?

I don’t think it is, because we’re currently at a disadvantage against some genetic diseases and especially with microbial life!  Microbial  life has an infinitely shorter life span than that of a Human’s and thus breeds new, stronger generations faster and that are resistant to our drugs, medicines and most of our immune systems. In the past, this wouldn’t have been a problem as these microbes wouldn’t have developed a resistance to drugs and cleaning fluids because they didn’t  exist and only our immune system would have dealt with it. Yes, people would die, but that is the way natural selection works, if you haven’t got what it takes to survive then you die. That’s the natural way, a way that is and wont be accepted in modern-day society. So it’s only a matter of time before Genetic Manipulation of Human embryos is accepted as the norm, if indeed Humans survive that long. 

Having said that, I think Genetic Manipulation may only have to be done every 200 years or so? If you think about it, if a population of Humans genetically manipulate all their offspring to be resistant to genetic diseases, microbials and to have perfect immune systems, then future generations of that population will still be strong for a long while. Obviously, over time genetic mutations will naturally occur and weaken the community, so a strengthening of the community could be carried out every 200 years or whenever it is needed. Would that be acceptable? Would you support such a scheme? If not, then why not?

What I also found interesting in the programme was that the Human race has in fact been evolving over the last 2000 years! I thought we pretty much stopped because we could adapt to all environments with inventions and see off all predators. Apparently Humans have developed the ability to produce lactase, which is the enzyme in your small intestine that breaks down the lactose in milk. In the past Humans only had this ability when they were children, and after they were weaned they lost this function. Populations in North and North Western Europe and parts of the Middle East developed this adaptation over the last 2000 years where pastoral grazing of captive animals took place. Where as other populations in parts of the world, especially in South East Asia, have not, as they never consumed Milk from other animals untill fairly recently.

There’s also the amazing people of the Himalayas who have adapted to living in the high altitudes where oxygen is only 60% what it is at sea level and higher up the mountains there is even less oxygen. These people exist and live where normal populations from lower altitudes would die or be sick.

I find it utterly fascinating and an example of evolution in progress, right in front of our eyes. And I hope, this means our evolution is not over yet.. We may have the technology to manipulate our genetic code but that doesn’t mean we wont ever be susceptible to the natural world around us ever again, because we will at some point. I just hope that Humanity progresses forward and doesn’t just limit  Its evolutionary adaptions to environment only. I hope we go on to become more intelligent and maybe control that violent nature we have that threatens to destroy us, so we can create a Human race that survives in to the future, even if that Race evolves beyond the point of not being Human anymore.

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16 Responses to “Genetic Manipulation And Human Evolution”

  1. theory said

    organization…

    […]Genetic Manipulation And Human Evolution « I Don't Fear The Chaos![…]…

  2. Mark Cowan said

    The lactose ‘adaptation’ over the short time spans noted indicate this is a Lamarckian process rather than a Darwinian process. There is a tendency to use evolution as a synonym for Darwin(ism) and this is often misleading. The more we learn about the human artificial environment and the power of learning and experience the evidence points to as yet not fully understood connections between culture and biology.

    Evolutionary biologists are not necessarily the most objective voices in this regards because their default position when it comes to humans is to stress the sameness with all other life, and to hark back deep in to our evolutionary past despite these culture/biology interactions a relatively new and dynamic phenomena. Even Dawkins’ (memetics) and Wilson’s (sociobiology) stress an understanding of gene-culture co-evolution and the more the evidence pours in the power and force of culture is one that remains beyond the explanatory capacity of evolutionary theory.

    Tonights programme on colour only adds weight to the dynamism of human experience, and I’m sure this will be underlined over the rest of the 14 Horizon episodes this series.

  3. hrhdaf said

    Gaaaaaaaaaa… I did not click notify me of follow up comments. Buggeration! xx

  4. hrhdaf said

    Hey hey Phil!
    Im not against screening for genetic mutations, but Im completely against genetic modification. Anyone with any scientific background knows that messing with the gene pool is seriously asking for trouble, cos basicially youre releasing it on the masses and if you make a mistake then were all doooooooomed. Ok slight exaggeration but you get the idea. In theory we could be.
    I really dont know why Im trying to leave a serious comment today, feeling far too flighty cos the suns shining and im feeling the spring in my bones.
    So Ill just say hope your having a good day n leave it at that before I decend into being massively annoying. Whaddayameeeeean I already have 😉
    Moocho love Daf xxx

    • Oi Oi Daf! :O)

      I wasn’t advocating messing with the gene pool that much, just imporving it by removing the genetic dieases and giving us a better immune system that gives and edge to fight off any new diseases that come along. Everything else should be left alone.

      Just cos the sun is shining it doesn’t mean ya can’t be serious as well! Honestly, any excuse to get out of commenting on my blogs! lol It’s sunny here too, but it’s still cold outside. And ya never annoying, unless you’re in Super Daf mode, and that’s a rareity because you need 100 gold rings and eight chaos emeralds to achieve that. 😉

      Hope ya havin’ fun in the sun, mate! 🙂 Much love hugs comin’ at cha! :O) xxx

  5. Freedom, by the way said

    Fascinating and a bit frightening whenever we play God. I can see benefits. But I can also see a lot of messy drawbacks.

    • Welcome Back, Freedom! 🙂

      I have my ideas of what could go wrong, as do others, but what are your concerns with this technology? What would be the “messy drawbacks”?

      • Freedom, by the way said

        Designer babies. Just how many star athletes, super models, musical protegees and mathmatical geniuses does the world need? Parents who opt for “fixing” their embryos only to have that child contract some sort of disease or be born with a birth defect anyway–oh, the lawsuits and medical malpractice! And back to designer babies–suppoose you could “gift” your child with mathematical brillance. And suppose that stubborn child wanted to be a NASCAR driver? Or a preacher? Families could get torn apart when expectations are not met. O.K., maybe I’m being far-fetched. But am I?

        • prenin said

          I’d say no – you’re right on the money Freedom!!!

          God Bless!

          Prenin.

        • I think you’re thinking about this the American way.

          You’re also assuming everyone will want to make those kind of people, and you’re forgetting there will be regulation of any genetic changes or adaptions. There’s also the fact genetic manipulations will only be few and far between, there’s no need for manipulations every time a child is to be born, just screening once the first generation is has been treated.

          The only changes that will be made will be to genetic illnesses and a perfect immune system. Everything else doesn’t really need to be messed with. I don’t think ‘designer babies’ will be permittied, not in the West anyway.

          As you quite rightly say, just because someone has been gifted with intelligence etc, doesn’t mean they will use or even develop that skill. That has nothing to do with the Doctor and everything to do with Parents and the individual, I don’t think they could sue the Docs for that.

          Thanks for your thoughts on the subject! 🙂

  6. prenin said

    Genetic interference in the natural order has been with us for centuries – dare I mention Herr Hitler and Project Freya???

    He planned – and succeeded – in breeding a generation of Aryan blondes by using captive women and his SS Ubermenche as breeding stock.

    Believe it or not you know one well.

    The Blonde lady in ABBA…

    Now we have the ability to genetically screen embryos we have to ask – just whose vision decides which should be allowed to be born???

    We are replacing natural selection with Medical selection – and that means diversity will be threatened in the long term…

    Very intertesting Post Phil!!! 🙂

    God Bless!

    Prenin.

    • What Hitler did was Eugenics, not direct genetic manipulation. Though I believe if this technology was available back then he would’ve been hard at work building his ideal race!

      It wasn’t the blonde one from ABBA, it was the other one, the red head. ‘Frida’ I believe her name is? Let me look for a story *Googles it* Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anni-Frid_Lyngstad Not exactly a story but it does say she is the result of an affair between a Norwegian girl and a German officer. Not sure if it was part of the breading programme they had or not, though.

      “Now we have the ability to genetically screen embryos we have to ask – just whose vision decides which should be allowed to be born???”

      Well, I don’t think it’ll get to a point where they will be asking who gets to be born or not, bcause the embryo wont even be aware/alive at that stage. It’s not like it’ll be a child being aborted at 24 weeks or whatever statge it is. They will be screened and only the genetically healthy will be allowed to be born. All the bad stuff would be screened out.

      Obviously there will have to be strict guide lines and regulation for it. For instance, I don’t think messing with hair, eye or skin colour should be allowed. I think this technology should just be used for riding Humanity of genetic diseases and creating a immune system that enables us to deal with other new strains of natural disease.

      “We are replacing natural selection with Medical selection – and that means diversity will be threatened in the long term…”

      That would be a possibility if anyone could do anything they wanted. Under strict guide-lines, which is what I think would be put in place anyway, only Genetic flaws and stregnthening of the species would take place. So variation would still exist, especially if you only manipulate every 200 years or so.

      Thanks for your thoughts on the subject, Ian! 🙂

      Hope the week’s been a good one for ya! 🙂

  7. I’ll keep it short because I am just trying to get around but this really is a very interesting and fascinating subject. I have always thought that we are still evolving and will always continue to do so. We have what 75, 85 or if we are really lucky 90+ years but that in the grand scheme of things is really nothing – bear in mind that blokes with frames like yours and mine would have been considered giants and towered over everyone 400 years ago…..although I am not quite sure how growing has been any form of evolution but clearly, happening for a reason.
    I’ll come back to this sometime for a discussion…..
    Pete

    • We got bigger because of better food. And being a larger animal shows you eat well and that you can be also dominant. So it’s a benefit because it furthers the chanceses of spreading our genes.

      Come back if and when you want, no obligation, as I always say! 🙂

      Gonna come over to your blog in a few, untill then, thanks for your thoughts on the subject and take care, mate! 🙂

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