In the brilliantly imagined sci-fi motion picture GATTACA from 1997, Ethan Hawke and his love interest Uma Thurman pursue their passion for one another and their dreams of space flight careers in a well tailored futurescape where supreme genetic modification of the human genome has rendered most diseases and flaws for upper class elites practically obsolete.
Births due to conception via natural mating have been banned and are no longer legal. The STATE has now mandated the breeding of genetically superior offspring whose life expectancy, along with all known probabilities for disease and IQ, are assessed at birth, when one drop of the babies’ blood is examined and the infant’s entire life pattern is printed out as a result, including the most likely lifespan, most promising talents, career proclivities, superior athletic prowess and so on. Nothing is left to chance anymore.
We may be not more than twenty years away from this exact position in space and time for the human species, unless laws are passed NOW, in the next year, which curtail the velocity of permanently altered human genome research, until humanity as a whole can come to grips with all of the far reaching implications of taking on the Godlike powers to permanently alter our own human genomes in such a way that final and lasting changes are literally passed on to all succeeding generations of humankind, rendering a future for humanity that is changed in ways we cannot possibly imagine at this vulnerable point in space and time in 2015. We have not the talents [ YET ] to imagine the kinds of permanent outcomes for the human race in the future should we choose now to begin tinkering with designer human beings.
The first possible calamity which comes to mind – out of the infinite numbers of potential calamities which might ensue if we begin allowing this kind of science to proceed considering our prevailing worldwide cult of shared blood lust, is the tendency for a power-hungry G8 government, oh let’s say such as Putin’s Russia or the behemoth atheistic State government of China, to quickly achieve the scientific means to begin designing and breeding a designer super-soldier race of men and women whose intelligence and abilities on the field of battle are so superior to those of any other nation, that the game of war on planet earth is changed forever. The nation with the most brilliant and superior military strategists and athletes wins, hands down, and the balance of power on earth is changed forever. The genetically superior men and women of the prevailing STATE now inherit all of the poverty stricken and troubled nations of the world, with all of their “naturally bred” disease plagued inferior people, enslaving these lesser endowed populations into a more or less permanent state of servitude to the STATE of the genetically superior government, who now rules the world with an iron fist. And so forth and so on.
If you don’t think this particular scenario is either likely or possible, consider the fact that there are no less than a dozen or so existing governments in the world whose officials would leap at the chance to genetically re-order the balance of power on earth such that their own kind would come out on top, permanently, and begin breeding a super-mortal who was literally genetically predisposed to eradicate all other people and races and societies who were perceived not to believe or live in the “right manner,” as their own superior belief systems dictate? Isn’t that EXACTLY what ISIS and radical Islam is all about? Of course it is. Isn’t that exactly what fundamentalist Christianity is all about as well? Of course it is. Won’t that be just about EXACTLY why the final world war will be fought in the Mideast, with the stakes on the table being which civilization will rule humanity, the WEST or the FAR EAST? Of course it will be.
What do you think is the likelihood that a small handful of brilliant spiritually advanced and astute scientists will seize control of this new genetic technology, and make sure it is used for “breeding out” of the human genome all earlier base inherited proclivities for war, murder, rape, pedophilia, bestiality, non-monogamous mating appetites, etc, replacing same with a superior intellect, a magnificent physique, an IQ lofty enough to enter into four digits routinely, along with a superior spiritual aptitude to grasp more advanced concepts of God, then put them into action in human society, etc – using this new technology?
Be reasonable. Look around you at our present situation. The likelihood is nill to none. You know it and I know it.
Humanity will not be spiritually mature enough to manage and direct a technology like this for at least another 100 years, possibly more. The populations of the world must first arrive at a candid and final consensus that sending off their most brilliant young men and women to fight in never-ending wars is a colossal waste of the human gene pool, and we are still more than 100 years away from that point of emerging actual spiritual adulthood for the human race. So the powder-keg discovery – like matches – must be kept away from the wild young kids of planet earth who for now, would only use it to set the house on fire, globally.
Fears the extraordinary advances in genome editing might resurrect the immoral idea of creating a new “Master Race” has prompted prominent scientists to call for a worldwide ban on a new gene editing technique that might make this nightmare scenario possible.
Scientists from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) have called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of a new gene editing technique called “CRISPR/Cas9” that could alter human DNA across generations. They fear the technique might be used in unsafe or unethical ways.
Nobel Laureates David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology and Paul Berg of Stanford University and 16 other medical experts have banded together to issue a warning against CRISPR/Cas9.
The petitioners urge a worldwide moratorium on using gene editing methods to genetically engineer the human genome in a way that can be inherited.
They warned “scientists should avoid even attempting, in lax jurisdictions, germline genome modification for clinical application in humans” until the full implications “are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations”.
CRISPR/Cas9 is so scientifically simple, cheap and powerful it’s widely seen as a promising key to treating serious genetic diseases and AIDS and many cancers.
CRISPR/Cas9 is a bacteria-derived system that uses RNA molecules that recognize specific human DNA sequences. The RNAs act as guides, matching the nuclease to corresponding locations in the human genome.
CRISPR/Cas9 is the simplest genome-editing tool to work with because it relies on RNA-DNA base pairing, rather than the engineering of proteins that bind particular DNA sequences.
It’s already inspired the start of a new biotechnology industry. The technique was developed by researchers at the University of Berkeley.
The scientists demanding the ban believe CRISPR/Cas9 could also be applied to enhance human genetic traits and raises serious ethical concerns. It’s bound to reignite the debate on the morality of engineering “designer babies” and almost perfect human beings that are disease free, more intelligent and physiologically superior.
“Given the speed with which the genome engineering field is evolving, our group concluded that there is an urgent need for open discussion of the merits and risks of human genome modification by a broad cohort of scientists, clinicians, social scientists, the general public and relevant public entities and interest groups. We must ban attempts to create genetically altered humans before the technique is fully understood,” said the petitioners.
Many countries have already banned any DNA editing that can be passed from one generation to the next. The United States has regulations that hold back such developments from being realized for years or decades.
Laws in some nations, however, could allow for the creation of ‘designer babies’ in the near future, driving the authors to call for a moratorium on research from scientists.
“You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue. Some countries have poor regulation or none at all. The proposed ban was designed to keep people from doing anything crazy,” added Baltimore.
The report calling the ban was published in the journal, Science.
Another group of scientists also called for a ban on the technique in the journal, Nature.
This group said “genome editing in human embryos using current technologies could have unpredictable effects on future generations. This makes it dangerous and ethically unacceptable. Such research could be exploited for non-therapeutic modifications. We are concerned that a public outcry about such an ethical breach could hinder a promising area of therapeutic development, namely making genetic changes that cannot be inherited.”
This group is led by Edward Lanphier, chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine in Washington, DC, and also consists of Fyodor Urnov, Sarah Ehlen Haecker, Michael Werner and Joanna Smolenski.
Thy further argue that at “this early stage, scientists should agree not to modify the DNA of human reproductive cells. Should a truly compelling case ever arise for the therapeutic benefit of germline modification, we encourage an open discussion around the appropriate course of action”.