Germline Genetic Modification

278 views 7 pages ~ 1819 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Advancements in Genomic Sciences

Advancements in genomic sciences have opened up more opportunities than ever before. Scientists have gained a better understanding of heritable genetic conditions, and are continuously developing methods of controlling or eradicating them. Although genetic experiments have so far focused on animal test subjects, human trials are showing promise. However, such trials are limited to medical purposes or modification of the genetic structures of somatic cells. These modifications only treat specific medical conditions, are expensive and often 'a last resort' treatment measure. Despite the benefits that genetic manipulations present, scientist and philosophers are considering the implications of manipulating genes at the fundamental stages of human development. Germline genetic modification or 'inheritable genetic modification', is, therefore, a contentious topic amongst members of the scientific community.

Schools of Thought on Genetic Manipulation

There are two schools of thought that have developed from the topic of genetic manipulation. One school of thought calls for heavy control and regulation of genetic manipulation to curtail the long-term negative effects that such manipulation would have on humanity. The other school of thought relies on the promise of a future for humanity that is not plagued by diseases, genetic conditions and natural inevitabilities that are within human control. Genetic manipulation has a definite impact on humanity. Therefore, a consensus is required to determine the way forward for this scientific revolution.

Interest in Genetic Manipulation

The ability to have control of genetical outcomes not only interest scientists and philosophers but also ordinary people. During the second world war, the Nazi regime was able to create the notion of genetically superior German people, the Aryan race. The German people's support of this idea paved the way for the Holocaust, that sought to rid Germany and Europe of people they considered to be inferior. The German example demonstrates human being's preoccupation with genetical enhancement and superiority. Medical advancements such as preimplantation prognosis (PDG) are an opportunity for parents to choose the conditions they would not want in their offspring. Although such procedures are beneficial, they raise critical ethical questions. How far can we go with these modifications? Who benefits the most? Are we playing God? These are questions that Richard Hayes and Ronald Green attempt to answer in their essays. However, Hayes has a stronger argument as he highlights the long-term effects of genetic manipulation on the future of humanity. It is hard to predict the future. However, Hayes' argument touches on one fundamental human weakness, our insatiable greed.

Ethical Concerns of Genetic Manipulation

In his essay, Ronald Green discusses the future of embryo selection and its overall implications on the survivability of the human race. First of all, Green focuses on the ability of embryo selection to eradicate terminal hereditary conditions. However, the ethical issue of embryo discarding or designer babies is still unaddressed. Green recognizes this concern but argues that genetic screening is an opportunity for parents to manage or eradicate a particular disease from their lineage. In his example, the British couple sought to remove breast cancer from their family history, and prevent theirs, and any other offspring thereafter, from acquiring the condition. Savulescu et al, in their 2015 publication discuss the need for gene editing in therapeutic medicine. Their argument is similar to Ronald Green in that they both agree on the ethical concerns that gene editing presents. Savulescu et al further assert that genetic research has moral implications as it has the capability of saving or bettering the lives of many patients (476). Therefore, Savulescu et al and Green insinuate on the need to continue with genetic research, as it would morally improper to lose life on ethical grounds.

Ethic and Sociopolitical Implications

It is difficult to discuss genetic manipulation without considering ethics. There are a lot of ethical concerns over the issue of gene editing and modification. However, genetic manipulation is a necessary research especially in the treatment of genetic diseases or in complementing existing assistive reproductive technologies (Sugarman 477). Green raises a number of issues in this regard and attempts to provide solutions. First of all, Green argues that genetic selection will not degrade parental love. Parental love is a primordial instinct that has persisted for a significant part of life's existence. This love stems from the need to protect offspring from danger and ensure the long-term survivability of a species. Therefore, maternal and paternal instincts are strongest natural forces that are not easily eroded. According to Green, parents with disabled children have a stronger sense of love regardless of the child's imperfections. Conversely, Green believes that once children identify the benefits of the traits selected for them by their parents, they are unlikely to feel less loved or constrained in any way.

The Risk of Genetic Enhancement

Another ethical concern that Green addresses is the idea of the class difference as a result of genetic enhancement. The probability of genetic manipulation creating genetically superior humans controlling the planet is high. Therefore, gene editing may widen the existing social gap if not aggravate it. Green does not provide a concrete solution to this ethical concern, instead he focuses on the positive social aspects of gene manipulation. However, the 20th-century sterilization attempts in the United States and the Holocaust are a reminder of the outcomes of genetic pureness or domination and why such acts need to be controlled if not completely avoided. (Hansen et al). Therefore, although Green's argument on widespread social betterment is valid, he completely disregards the chance of history repeating itself.

The Role of Nature and Nurture

Proponents of Darwinian evolution believe that natural selection is responsible for who we are presently and what we will become in the future. Therefore, our genetic makeup is a response to the changing environmental conditions. The Darwinian theory further postulates that the current life on earth exists because it expressed stronger genes (Flew). Although there have been several observational pieces of evidence that support Darwin's theory, it fails to address the key fundamental question; Where did life come from? Certainly, life is the creation of a higher power, God. Therefore, taking over the process of creating life or modifying our fundamental composition would be tantamount to assuming the role of God. Although Green attempts to justify embryo selection on religious grounds, he fails to draw a distinction between acceptance of genetics as a cure for disease and genetics as a choice of human character.

The Concerns of Richard Hayes

Richard Hayes, in his essay, contradicts Ronald Green's arguments. One of Hayes' primary concerns is the return of 'master races' that characterized the early 20th century. Embryo selection finds the embryo with the desired qualities and discards those without. Similarly, in the 20th century, the United States and Germany adopted the principles of eugenics and sought to create a 'master races' (Black 79). As a result, hundreds of disabled individuals, and others who were considered impure were either killed or cast aside. The Holocaust was a clear example of the devastation of such a selection. Although attempts to create genetically superior races were not successful, they were a clear demonstration of what genetic selection can do.

The Risk of Genetic Control Over Offspring

Richard Hayes also raises concerns over Green's 'designer babies' arguments. Hayes questions how far human beings may be willing to go to achieve the 'perfect child'. Human genetic manipulation may become a profitable venture turning children into commodities that can be modified to suit set expectations. Although Green argues that parental love is a strong primordial instinct, Hayes believes that human beings' natural sense of competition would completely override this love and create a race amongst parents at the expense of the children. Furthermore, genetical selection would remove free will from children whose future will be dependent on the desires of the parents. One can only imagine the implications if children were born with predefined roles. Science fiction has created scenarios where such a future exists. Krypton, the fictional home planet of the comic book hero 'Superman' has a 'Genetic Codex' that carries the genetic information of all Kryptonians. In this advanced civilization, sexual reproduction is non-existent and one's role in the society is deterministic of the parent's genetics and the codex matching. Hayes believes that such a future would undermine the creation of a human community with a common human future.

International Concerns

Hayes also discusses the issue of international 'eugenic arms races. Throughout history and in modern times, nations have continuously advanced their military capabilities. According to Hayes, it is inevitable that one economically endowed nation may decide to create armies of 'super soldiers' to protect against nonexistent threats. Such a move would create a domino effect with other nations rushing to acquire similar advances. The result is a world at risk of global conflict. The nuclear arms race is an example of the impact of such advancement on global peace. (Carlton et al). According to Hayes, genetic manipulation has its benefits. However, there is a growing national and international consensus on its advancement beyond medical research. Furthermore, with over 40 countries prohibiting advanced genetic experiments, it will take time before this consensus changes towards an acceptance of genetic manipulation.


The debate on the impact of nature and nurture on character traits sought to establish whether human traits were the result of predefined genetics or upbringing. The general consensus was that both factors played key roles in determining the outcome of an individual. Both authors raise critical points in their arguments. However, Richard Hayes' opposition to Ronald Green has more weight. Both nature and nurture play a role in determining an individual's traits. However, if one of the two factors acting alone may have unpredictable results. That is to say, if human beings completely controlled the future of their offspring, how would these offspring cope if nature suddenly changes? Would this genetic changes affect their ability to adapt to the changing environment? Although the answers to these questions may be in the affirmative, there are sociopolitical issues that may arise. Genetic selection may reduce the occurrence of genetical diseases or other imperfections, but will this selection be similar across society or just a clique of the elite? These questions indicate the uncertainty that exists over the issue of genetic manipulation and Richard Hayes shares similar concerns in his essay. Although Ronald Green attempts to address some of these issues, his argument does not completely dispel the concerns of genetic manipulation.

Works Cited

Black, Edwin. "War against the weak: Eugenics and America's campaign to create a master race." New York (2003).

Carlton, David, and Carlo Schaerf, eds. The Arms Race in the 1980s. Springer, 2016.

Flew, Antony. Darwinian evolution. Routledge, 2018.

Hansen, Nancy E., Heidi L. Janz, and Dick J. Sobsey."21st-century eugenics?" The Lancet 372 (2008): S104-S107.

Savulescu, Julian, et al. "The moral imperative to continue gene editing research on human embryos." Protein & Cell 6.7 (2015): 476-479.

Sugarman, Jeremy. "Ethics and germline gene editing." EMBO reports (2015): e201540879.

August 21, 2023


Subject area:

Genetic Engineering

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Verified writer

LuckyStrike has helped me with my English and grammar as I asked him for editing and proofreading tasks. When I need professional fixing of my papers, I contact my writer. A great writer who will make your writing perfect.

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories