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.