Genetic Engineering

Emily Shaw

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What is Genetic Engineering?

Genetic Engineering involves artificially manipulating the presence or absence of certain genes in an embryo; for example:

  • Sex
  • Appearance
  • Personality
  • Intelligence
  • Athletic Ability
  • Proneness to disease & disabilities

It doesn't necessarily cause any diseases or cancers, but can eliminate the proneness of a person obtaining hereditary diseases.

What has this got to do with genetic mutation?

A genetic mutation is any event that changes genetic structure or the sequence of someone's DNA, and genetic engineering involves the modification of genes in the body. Therefore genetic engineering is a genetic mutation.

SBS's Insight Episode on Designer Babies:

Are there any ethical issues surrounding Genetic Engineering?

  • At the moment genetic engineering is used to eliminate or minimise the chances of a child obtaining a hereditary disease or genetic disease. However, there is a possibility to use it to modify the cosmetic appearance of a child. Shouldn't a parent love their child despite their appearance? It also sends the message that an attractive person lives a more valuable life than anyone else.
  • In terms of disability, it places more value on a non-disabled persons life over a disables person, despite many of them living perfectly normal lives.
  • In some countries it can be used for gender selection to avoid things like the Dowry system.
  • Fairly new thing, long term side effects are unknown - could they be wore than the diseases that were removed? Does it work long-term?