Sunday, April 03, 2011

Altering DNA – Moral or Amoral?

What I always find confusing is why so many people are adverse to genetic enhancement of individuals DNA. Granted, I wouldn’t want the state to get its hands on such a techniology and use it to breed super-soldiers. But I think that, North Korea aside, there aren’t that many governments who could do that without repercussions from its population.

Now, most people agree that preventing genetic diseases or curing a disease are valuable and moral goals of DNA altering techniques. What I don’t understand why they are so repulsed by the next stage: Picking desirable traits?

Are they so arrogant and smug that they jealously guard their own superior traits against unfortunate people, who have only the born disadvantage of not being as beautiful, as intelligent or as fast as they are? I think this is a very cruel point of view and I also think not many people spent a lot of time thinking it over.

I mean, yes, there is a fear that money will grant a limited share of the human population the possibility to raise their children with the traits they want. But then again, there is only a limited share of people today that have access to instant fresh hot water. How is that any more moral or amoral?

If history is any indication than the super-rich starting to use those methods to alter DNA will make it affordable for the rest of humanity in the future. IT is the same development we are currently observing in the space tourism business.

Cost to get an astronaut in orbit 1970s: A few billion $ per astronaut

Cost to get rich people into orbit in 2010: 200.000 $

Given this cost-reduction, I think in a decade or so, we will be able to put people into space for a mere 1000 $ per trip. Why shouldn’t that work for DNA alteration, too?

Again, I’m still baffled that so many people, even none religious ones, are against DNA alteration to make people stronger, more intelligent or more beautiful. Or do they think that people deserve to live with those disadvantages? How unkind is that train of thought!

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