Opinion: Cloning and Gene Modification


Max Pollard, Senior Editor

The history of humanity is characterized by the continual advancement or technology, using tools and machines to dominate the world around us. While the next steps in our progress are always met with at least some resistance by those who fear the change, all people must eventually adopt these advancements in order to be successful. Whether it be industrialization or nuclear energy/weapons, our level of technology and willingness to use it will decide our ability to compete in the world. Cloning and gene-editing, in my opinion, is one such technology that will change our world. The current limits to these fields are present mostly as a result of ethical issues. The restrictions on these disciplines are a disgrace to the pursuit of science, and comparable to the stifling of progress of evolutionary theory by religious entities. In order to understand, improve, and survive as a species, we must disregard our fear of the unknown and take a leap of faith.

Cloning is a widely-used cliche of the science-fiction genre, and therefore seems like a far-fetched technology beyond the manipulation of our current tools. Not only is cloning within our scientific reach, but this emerging tech has already been translated to the commercial sector, though not yet for humans. New advancements in both cloning and gene-editing in primates and other animals offer seemingly endless opportunities for humanity if we are brave enough to pursue them. The practice of cloning, unlike gene-editing, has not been performed on any human subjects as of the time of this article. Despite this lack of human examples, scientists have already managed to clone rhesus monkeys in recent years, giving strong yet theoretical evidence for our ability to clone human beings. We have come a long way in cloning technology since the famous Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996, but bio-tech remains a young field that promises even greater advancements in our future.

Genetic Modification is another major topic in bio-tech, and one that that has already left a major impact on our planet through agriculture. While modifying crops is definitely helpful, it is only the beginning of what we might achieve with gene-editing. One obvious application of such advancements is the human species, improving the health of both our species and individuals. Gene therapy is one such way that these technologies can help us, able to treat or prevent diseases and, perhaps one day, disorders as well. The benefit of gene modification is slightly less direct, but provides much more to us as a species than the limited scope of gene therapy can. One use of germline genetic modification, or the modification of genes during early embryonic stages, that has been suggested is the introduction of beneficial genes into a large number of people, these genes would then be introduced into the rest of the human population, ultimately increasing the fitness of our species. These new opportunities may seem harmful or unethical at first, but we would be fools not to take advantage of such an important technology.