From superrich, superhumans to sterilization to designer babies, these are the 7 creepiest possibilities of DNA and/or genome editing.
If you’re overweight, you’ve got a big nose, or your ass is triangle-shaped you probably blame your parents. After all, it was their inferior DNA which created you, but there’s not much they could’ve done to change that right? Well soon all of this could change, because in February 2016 scientists at the UK’s Francis Crick Institute were given the green light to begin only the second ever licensed testing of genome editing technology on human embryos.
When genome editing technology becomes commercially available there’s only one section of society who will be able to afford it at first – the super-rich. They’ll make their children smarter, more handsome, more athletic, and when the gap grows between ordinary people and these genetically engineered rich kids, we could end up on the path towards a society controlled only by wealthy super humans.
When you talk about genetically modified food you start conjuring up crazy images of gigantic mutant corn, muscular beefcake cows, and tomatoes that have been specifically engineered to understand the concept of irony. GM food is pretty controversial, but mostly because there’s a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the possible after effects of creating super-fertile seeds or pest-resistant crops.
Between 1907 and 1981 the United States implemented one of the most shocking projects humanity has ever known – the mass sterilization of more than 65,000 individuals to remove their so-called defective DNA from the American gene pool. Some of these people were voluntarily sterilized, but many, such as mental patients, poor people and black and Native American women were sterilized without their consent.
The link between depression and creativity has been studied since the times of Ancient Greece, but we still know barely anything about why those with creative minds are so prone to mental illnesses. Major conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety and bipolar disorder are seemingly common amongst our most brilliant artists. Charles Dickens, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Ray Charles, Marilyn Monroe and Pablo Picasso are just some of history’s most brilliant creatives who suffered, and it doesn’t just affect artsy fartsy types either.
When Angelina Jolie made the brave decision to undergo a double mastectomy and have her ovaries removed she did so because she carries the BRCA1 gene, a gene which dramatically increases your risk of developing cancer in those areas. But with genome editing technology surgery like this may never need be your only option, as not only can you potentially remove these genes in the womb, they may be editable in grown human beings too.
Some of the possibilities on this list are a little bleak so we thought we’d end with something awesome, and there’s nothing more awesome than dragons. An essay in the American Journal of Bioethics authored by bioscience professors from Stanford and Wisconsin speculated that the creation of spectacular and mythical creatures using the CRISPR as a method is “not impossible”, stating that;
“there are the possibilities of spectacles…animals and plants not created for personal use but to be exhibited”.
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