The Controversial Danger of Human Gene Editing: What You Need to Know

In August news broke that for the first time ever a group of scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University successfully edited the genes of human embryos. The gene edit, performed by the controversial CRISPR biotechnology tool, ‘snipped’ the genetic traits linked to a heart defective disease and replaced them with healthy ones in a “copy-paste” like function.

But while the gene editing experiment appears to showcase attractive results for the medical industry, it has opened up a can of worms about the ethics of genetic altering practices all over again. “Why should people be so concerned about editing human genes?” some may ask. “What’s the big deal? It’s going to help cure genetic diseases and benefit society, right?”

That may be the case on the surface…but unfortunately, not everything is as cut and dry as it seems.

Editing Humans: A Valid Idea?

Ever since scientists cloned Dolly, the world’s first sheep cloned from an adult mammal cell, in 1996, there has been much debate over what could happen if we allowed genetic altering in humans such as cloning or, in this case, gene editing, to become legal. Supporters of human gene-editing argue that it is beneficial and humane for us because gene editing would be a more permanent solution to remove the ‘harmful’ genetic traits such as those linked to muscular dystrophy and other genetic diseases.

Because the correction in genetic editing, unlike isolated genetic therapy treatments, would pass on to the next generation, medical science can supposedly eradicate these diseases over time in a similar fashion that vaccines do.

But while this idea may sound noble on the surface, the potential for gene editing to ruin the lives of many humans is far too great to risk its benefits. Errors in genetic editing have occurred, for one thing, resulting in other diseases popping up later in life – or even worse, genetic mutations gone wrong – due to the lack of the beneficial DNA that was ‘snipped’ by mistake. These mishaps can certainly impact a human boy or girl growing up for the rest of their lives when they needlessly don’t have to be.

Another major problem with editing human genes is the fact that creating ‘designer’ gene babies is simply all too tempting. The editing of genes that affect certain diseases might be all well and good, but where do we draw the line? When would it be perceived as acceptable for people to “play God” and select certain genes for eye and hair color, or athletic and musical talent?

The technology would certainly be an even bigger problem if it fell into the wrong hands, such as terrorists or countries aggressive to the United States. It would not be far-fetched for them to create “super soldiers” in a similar fashion to science fiction.

Thankfully, human embryo gene altering is currently not allowed to be supported by the federal government in the United States, but individuals can conduct their own experiments with private funding. And with CRISPR technology becoming more affordable and accessible than previous genetic methods, this means that there is greater potential for risks – or ill intent – to develop with ‘garage’ gene editing among the public. This concerns many medical and national security experts who feel that the risks of access to this unregulated newfound power ultimately outweigh the supposed ‘benefits.’

Why should we open the door to yet another biological weapon? How could gene editing help the human race if the temptation is too great to produce ‘super soldiers’ or ‘designer babies’ who don’t have a say for their mutations in the first place? Wouldn’t the introduction of human gene splicing only aggravate the discrimination, racism, and hate the world is experiencing today?

Such problems cropping up with this technology point to the fact that humans trying to edit the genes of other humans without the Lord’s help is really not the best idea. Couple that with the Scriptural truth that people are made in God’s image, it’s clear that tinkering with the directional code of life in people has obvious ethical consequences for the whole human race.

What’s the Solution, Then?

While gene therapy may be the only way for some people to be cured of chronic diseases, editing our genetic makeup is going against God’s designs. It is really best to seek out the Scriptures and ask for the Lord’s help for those who need healing. Let the Great Physician, the One who knit you together chromosome by chromosome Himself, heal you instead rather than ignorant scientists! It is definitely much better than to deal with the grave consequences of human mistakes.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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