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Old Dec 1st 2015, 09:14 AM
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dilettante dilettante is offline
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Default Editing human DNA (Now easier than ever before!)

Also in the news today: Big meeting in DC to discuss human genetic engineering. The short version is that, with new gene-altering techniques, it's become really easy and really cheap (relatively speaking) to alter human DNA, including DNA in sperm and egg cells. That means the new genetic traits would not only affect the modified individual but also be passed down to their children and, generally speaking, added to the human gene pool.

So what are the ethical/practical questions involved here? And what sort of regulation is desirable and possible?

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Editing life: Scientists can, but should they?

While politicians and climate scientists converged on Paris on Monday to hammer out a global-warming accord, an international cadre of geneticists, biologists, ethicists and scientific policymakers opened a three-day conference in Washington to debate the way forward on a far more subtle man-made challenge: genome editing.

The question before the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, Britain's Royal Society and the Chinese Academy of Sciences: Now that new techniques have made the editing of an organism's germ line a relative snap, should we use the new tools, and how?

Hanging in the balance are genome-editing practices that could have broad agricultural and environmental applications. Those are intriguing, potentially lucrative and raise prospects exciting and scary.

But the scientific and ethical issues raised by those applications are eclipsed by concerns over the prospective use of genome-editing techniques on humans.

The editing of a human individual's "germ-line" would introduce changes that not only change his or her DNA for life: that changed genetic architecture would be passed on to future generations. Essentially, new and widely available techniques for genome editing would allow scientists to seize the reins of evolution and bypass the glacial process by which natural selection has evolved a range of human traits, including a propensity for certain diseases.

The use of these techniques could permanently expunge a devastating genetic disease -- say, Huntington's disease -- from a family's tree. But many scientists worry that it could saddle future generations with new and unforeseen genetic changes -- including harmful mutations -- that might not be reversed or eradicated so easily.

...
http://www.latimes.com/science/scien...130-story.html
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Old Dec 1st 2015, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: Editing human DNA (Now easier than ever befo

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Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
Also in the news today: Big meeting in DC to discuss human genetic engineering. The short version is that, with new gene-altering techniques, it's become really easy and really cheap (relatively speaking) to alter human DNA, including DNA in sperm and egg cells. That means the new genetic traits would not only affect the modified individual but also be passed down to their children and, generally speaking, added to the human gene pool.

So what are the ethical/practical questions involved here? And what sort of regulation is desirable and possible?
I am opposed to any kind of genetic engineering, even if it is framed as necessary for improving health or for saving someone's life.

My reasoning is simple - human beings are nasty evil brutes who will do just about anything they can get away with if they can make a dollar doing it. Heck, some humans are so nasty that they will do nasty/brutal things just for sadistic fun. Given this basic human fact, I don't see how gene technology will not be used and abused for all the worst reasons.

As for government regulation, we have mountains of evidence that state regulation generally doesn't work if there is a large profit motive involved. In almost every case public interest, public health and public safety (and the quality of the environment) are routinely set aside in favor of expanding profit opportunities (legal or not) - no matter how many laws and regulations have to be ignored. It is way too easy to 'capture' public regulators and if big money is involved, the regulators always get captured.

I can't imagine how or why anyone could expect genetic techology to be different. That is to say, genetic technology will just be another method for our ruling elites (the 1% set) to protect and preserve their exhalted status into the future.
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Old Dec 2nd 2015, 08:52 PM
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Dominick Dominick is offline
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Default Re: Editing human DNA (Now easier than ever befo

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Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
Also in the news today: Big meeting in DC to discuss human genetic engineering. The short version is that, with new gene-altering techniques, it's become really easy and really cheap (relatively speaking) to alter human DNA, including DNA in sperm and egg cells. That means the new genetic traits would not only affect the modified individual but also be passed down to their children and, generally speaking, added to the human gene pool.

So what are the ethical/practical questions involved here? And what sort of regulation is desirable and possible?
"potentially lucrative".
Those two words establish how this issue will evolve beyond question.
Is it a good idea to chop down the rain forests? No, but it was "potentially lucrative".
Is it a good idea to build an economy based on fossil fuels? No, but it was "potentially lucrative".
Is it a good idea to be in alliance with Saudi Arabia? No, but it was "potentially lucrative".
Is it a good idea to fuck up the food chain? No, but it was "potentially lucrative".
Etc.

This shit will be done, and very likely in the way Michael indicates, and arguing about the ethics will be little more than du passe-temps and fodder for TV networks.
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