Author Topic: Genetics  (Read 4610 times)

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Offline Kaiyoki

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Genetics
« on: July 06, 2009, 04:11:35 pm »
So with the progression of technology in general, Genetics and it's many branches are budding into a green beginning. What are your views on the current path leading to Stem Cells and Designer Babies?

Links:

 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,989987,00.html

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/health_medicine/stem_cells/

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« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 04:36:11 pm by Kaiyoki »
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Offline Traumerei

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2009, 10:53:07 am »
I believe designer babies are an incredibly terrible idea. Changing for the sake of "beauty" is essentially the basis of racism, or any kind of blind hatred. As far as looks go, anyway. If we discover a way to significantly alter mental processes before development, it will open an entire can of new issues. I say, we need natural variation to properly advance as a species. And designing our children exactly the way we see fit will get in the way of most natural progression. We develop the way we do for a reason.
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Re: Genetics
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2009, 11:21:55 am »
*nod nods in agreement with Traumerei*

This is, essentially, eugenics, which was part of Adolf Hitler's platform. It is one thing to use genetic research and engineering to address hereditary illness, but anything that goes beyond that raises some serious ethical questions.

For example, I think we have seen this in some of decisions made by the AKC for dog breed standards. Often, one's perception of "good breeding" and "beauty" only leads to worse problems. When the AKC standard for German Shepherds began to include the exaggerated slope of the back, hip dysplasia became a prominent medical problem in the breed. I guess this is a separate concern of mine.
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Offline Traumerei

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2009, 01:10:55 pm »
Just some more fuel for thought: If the majority of us were the same, would it lead to increased discrimination against those of us who are different?
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Offline Baako

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2009, 01:27:18 pm »
I agree with being able to use stemcells to weed out disfigurments and such-like (if it were possible), but for petty things such as aesthetics and beauty.... no, its childish.


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Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2009, 08:10:28 pm »
For example, I think we have seen this in some of decisions made by the AKC for dog breed standards. Often, one's perception of "good breeding" and "beauty" only leads to worse problems. When the AKC standard for German Shepherds began to include the exaggerated slope of the back, hip dysplasia became a prominent medical problem in the breed. I guess this is a separate concern of mine.

Not to get too side tracked here because I agree with pretty much all that's been said, but I wanted to thank you for this example. I noticed that German Sheps started looking like they were walking crouched down in the back and thought it was a training thing. I think it looks fugly and would never want a dog like that. Whoever thought that was a good trait needs to be smacked, but I digress...

Back on topic, I would like to see genetic modifications for preventing/eliminating defects and deseases. The problem is ethics, which is why I'd be leary of going full force with it. On the extreme end, of course there's designer babies. But what about the iffy stuff? I know this may cause a lot of bristled fur, but I want it known that the following example could be a very real possibility if genetics proceeds this far, and it's a topic that I know a lot of the fandom easily accepts. Homosexuality. Now, while I support gay rights and all, I know a lot of people in the movement try to say it's a natural thing. At least in part, meaning they think there's something akin to the "gay gene". Let's say two parents find out their would-be-baby will be pre-disposed to being gay. Would it be right for them to have the option of "fixing the problem" as they see it, considering being gay to be a birth defect to them? Do we leave it up to the doctor that would normally perform it? Should we legislate it either way?

None of those would be an easy option. While gay rights people would say no, others would  argue parental rights and what they deem best for the child. And in the middle would be lobbying groups trying to get rules passed both ways. All will be well and good as long as we're curing universally agreed defects like down's syndrome, but we will eventually run in to cases where the science can make changes that not everyone will agree with. Heck, it could get to the point that we could finally walk around with tails, but you know other groups would abhore it. I don't know if it's watching too many bad sci-fi movies that caused this, but my fear is that no matter how ethical and good intentioned the developing scientists are at this work, I would expect sooner or later a rouge scientist out there will start trying things that isn't in the field's best interest.
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Offline Yip

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2009, 02:57:36 am »
I'm undecided on this issue.  I actually think the idea of "designer babies" would be good if the baby got to be making the choices. But obviously that doesn't work.

I'm against the idea of parents making such choices particularly when it's not over something that's definitely harmful. Sure a lot of them may have the would be child's best interests in mind, but with making choices like eye color, hair color, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, and so on, these things have no clear choice of what's better both for the child and for society as a whole. Many parents (or parents to be) are likely unqualified to make such decisions and therefore there is great potential for misuse.

The problem I see with such genetic enhancement: As a species we may have the intelligence to do this, but as a species we lack the wisdom to use it responsibly.

Offline Motor Mouth

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2009, 03:42:46 am »
This is the destruction of the natural process, if from this point on all humans were "designed", then it would actually WEAKEN the gene pool and would lead down the path of mass genetic anomalies which wouldn't bode well for society...

Besides, attempting to create the look of children is very narcissistic as it's the parents choosing and not the kids. Now thats what I call living through your kids... 
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Re: Genetics
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2009, 08:34:17 am »
Using genetics to cure diseases is one thing which might be fine, but genetics for designer babies is something I'm totally against.  >:( I feel that something like that will lead to "genetic discrimination" and our country could start looking like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7OYCmynrRU
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Offline Traumerei

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2009, 08:35:21 am »
This is the destruction of the natural process, if from this point on all humans were "designed", then it would actually WEAKEN the gene pool and would lead down the path of mass genetic anomalies which wouldn't bode well for society...

Besides, attempting to create the look of children is very narcissistic as it's the parents choosing and not the kids. Now thats what I call living through your kids... 

It is to say, diversity is something you should be proud to have inherited, not to have been given by your parents. And I too am concerned with the consequences of inbreeding the same desired traits.
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Offline KitsuNinja

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2009, 10:29:02 am »
Using genetics to cure diseases is one thing which might be fine, but genetics for designer babies is something I'm totally against.  >:( I feel that something like that will lead to "genetic discrimination" and our country could start looking like this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7OYCmynrRU


Exactly. Genetic manipulation can lead to one group that is superior to another. One group can have all the high paying jobs in life, become politicians, etc. While those who aren't modified in any way become the trash of civilization. Living on the edge of poverty.


Of course, going further. Now, although this scenario may seem a little nerdy, perhaps those who are genetically superior may feel entitled to the planet, and try to wipe out those who aren't.







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Offline Yip

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2009, 05:48:00 pm »
Of course, going further. Now, although this scenario may seem a little nerdy, perhaps those who are genetically superior may feel entitled to the planet, and try to wipe out those who aren't.
Or maybe more likely, they will look at those that are not "enhanced" with pity, and outlaw the old way of procreating. Or maybe not outlaw as I don't see how that'd really be realistically enforceable, but at least make it socially unacceptable. If the genetically enhanced beings are really far superior as far as health and such, then there could be social pressures to abort any non-enhanced.

This is of course just speculation, and at this point it sounds too sci-fi.

Offline Yip

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2009, 01:31:32 pm »
I've been thinking about this genetics stuff, and it seems to me that if they ever can completely unlock the mysteries of dna it should be possible to actually create new life-forms. Not just modified humans, but anything that comes from dna.  The possibilities are HUGE. Of course there is a lot of things to work out in how to use this sort of thing responsibly, but I think the world would be a vastly different place. Quite possibly containing creatures of all shapes and sizes. And yes, containing real anthros.  A very intriguing idea, though one with a huge amount of room for bad things should it not be handled correctly.

Offline Draconium

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2009, 10:11:31 pm »
Genetics is THE science with the most potential for great uses and abuses.

"Designer babies" to prevent the birth of babies with Huntington's Disease or Tay-Sachs or some other deadly disease is perfectly acceptable. But designing babies to have certain hair, eye, skin color or anything that is not life threatening is pure, naked narcissism.

Also, health insurance. If genetic testing reveals that you are predisposed to say...colon cancer, wouldn't it be a concern that health insurance companies might not give you health insurance?

Also, musical talent appears to be roughly 50% genetic (see: Genome-wide linkage scan for loci of musical aptitude in Finnish families: evidence for a major locus at 4q22 (Journal of Medical Genetics)). This could lead to discrimination in orchestras (possibly even at the high school level or even lower). Imagine, no tryouts, just a simple blood test and an analysis of your pedigree (Okay, I made a REALLY bad joke here). It doesn't matter if you have been practicing for 20 years; you have no musically talented people in your family. Rejected. Am I exaggerating? Possibly a little but the possibility that genetic discrimination can occur is real.

It also opens the chilling specter that parents may abort their child simply because the child does not have the correct genes to "become" Mozart. And as I repeat, PARENTS engineering a baby that THEY want to see become a/an (famous artist, famed musician, Olympic athlete, etc) is pure and naked narcissism.
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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2009, 01:50:11 pm »
Have to agree with whats been said so far about using the technology to remove genetic diseases like cancer and the like.

Heres some food for thought, the child. What if later down the line there are some complications in the child due to fiddling with his/her DNA? Doctors aren't perfect and even to this day they make mistakes at hospitals, a small mistake when recoding a DNA strand might not show consequences until the child has hit a certain age and by that time it might be too late to correct.

I know removing harmful elements from your genetics is a noble pursuit, but you know how people can be, once you start to alter DNA lines there are going to be groups of folk out there who will scream about 'genetic purity' and claim that even removing cancer potential is wrong and harmful and that we shouldn't change anything. Next you'll daughters who can't marry the who they want because they were 'altered' before birth.

I know it all seems like a side plot out of Gattica or something, but you have to admit that it isn't too far outside possibility
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Offline Narei Mooncatt

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2009, 02:14:53 pm »
Here's something I'm suprised hasn't been brought up too... What about what the child wishes? Take the aformentioned musical talent example. What happens if he's designed to be a musical prodigy, but grows up hating music and wants to farm instead? All that money and work for nothing, and a person who may not be happy with their self.
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Offline Yip

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2009, 04:07:02 pm »
Here's something I'm suprised hasn't been brought up too... What about what the child wishes?
Actually, I did bring that up, and I completely agree.  I have no problems with it as the individual making choices for themselves. It's leaving such things in the hands of others, even parents that mean well for their kids, where I see most potential problems.

To solve that problem though, they'd need to find a way to make these modifications to already existing adult beings. And that's a completely different thing which as far as I know they are nowhere near being able to do.  Instead what they can do is modify things either before or in the very early stages of development so that it'll develop a certain way. And this unfortunately makes letting the individual choose for themselves just not feasible.

Even so, this sort of research seems to me to be very important, and I don't think it should be stopped. Though there is a great importance to make sure the ethical considerations are worked out before they get to be big problems.

Offline Draconium

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2009, 05:40:04 pm »
Here's something I'm suprised hasn't been brought up too... What about what the child wishes? Take the aformentioned musical talent example. What happens if he's designed to be a musical prodigy, but grows up hating music and wants to farm instead? All that money and work for nothing, and a person who may not be happy with their self.

I also want to toss the idea of genetic determinism out here. It's a less extreme version of the designer babies scenario.

What if your job was determined solely by your genes?

OR

What if parents do genetic testing and find that their unborn child has the correct genes to be a famous composer? Will the parents essentially "take over" their child's life, essentially sealing their future, just so they can brag about being the parents of a famous composer?

-------------

Also, this article Deaf By Design points at a disturbing possibility: parents INTENTIONALLY engineering a "defect" into their children. Though the case of Sharon Duchesneau and Candy McCullough (a deaf lesbian couple) involved them choosing a family friend who was deaf and had a family history of deafness as a sperm donor.

However, it is not improbable that disabled parents may use genetic testing to ensure that their child will be born disabled:

Quote
Some prospective parents have sought PGD to select an
embryo for the presence of a particular disease or disability,
such as deafness, in order that the child would share that
characteristic with the parents
. Three percent of IVF-PGD
clinics report having provided PGD to couples who seek to
use PGD in this manner.

From Genetic testing of embryos: practices and perspectives of U.S. IVF clinics

While it is understandable that parents want their child to "be like them", choosing or worse, engineering, their child to be disabled spits in the face of ethics. 

See here for another discussion about "designer defects".

Again, disabled parents intentionally engineering their disability into their children is narcissism in arguably its worst form.
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Offline Kay Alett

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2009, 02:22:20 am »
We might be able to make changes in adults using modified retroviruses. A retrovirus is a nasty bug like AIDS that actually changes your genetic sequence. If used if the right way we could program one to alter a persons DNA to express desired results.
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Offline Kaiyoki

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2009, 04:31:34 pm »
I completely forgot I had this topic here... >_>;

I would just like to point out, a retrovirus could leave traces of it's own DNA together with it's DNA package in the host cell. Goodness knows what mutations can result from that...
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Offline Yip

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2009, 12:45:42 am »
What if parents do genetic testing and find that their unborn child has the correct genes to be a famous composer? Will the parents essentially "take over" their child's life, essentially sealing their future, just so they can brag about being the parents of a famous composer?

We may tend to see this as a very bad thing (I know I do.)  But this sort of thing used to be very common. That is, once upon a time people commonly had little choice on what they were going to do with their lives, particularly for those that were royalty.

As for the Deaf by Design thing....  I find that guy's comment about it being like religion or education to be absolutely ridiculous. Religion and education don't lock the kid into it permanently the way being born deaf would.  I could understand not hindering the possibility of the kid being deaf, but actively promoting it just seems wrong.  I think I'd be upset if I found out my parents intentionally made me be missing one of my senses.  Can't the kid be part of the cultural aspect without being forced to be deaf?

Offline Kada-Ru

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Re: Genetics
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2009, 02:22:23 am »
I would love the idea of having a child of mine NOT born with DDD!  But, if everyone was genetically altered to NOT have any defects there would be so many people out of work.  Doctors, etc.  The list can be immense.

But for me, I know there are 3 things in my gene pool that are definitely genetic down the line.  Not to every child down the line but the gene would still be present even if it didn't show at that one level.

Overweight is on the female side of our family. So far every generation has overweight females.  The DDD (degenerative disc disease) is also one of our genes and didn't hit all siblings or all of one generation. Our artistic abilities, drawing etc., everyone of us siblings inherited that.  My son, inherited his music abilities from his dad and his art from me. Two out of his 3 kids are artistic while one isn't.  His wife isn't artistic but her mother was.

Now, we also know that all this is from our mother's side because most of us have different dads.  Myself and a younger brother, both with different dads both have DDD.  Hence it came from our mother.

Now, I would like to see some of the diseases that hinder a person from being able to do every day basic things be eliminated but on the other hand, like someone else mentioned, something much worse may show up instead.  Like the deaf may not be able to hear their other senses get stronger.  So who is to say that changing one little thing in ones DNA won't have more devastating problems?

I don't like the idea of changing a child's DNA to have what the parent WANTS because that takes out all the fun of learning what your child likes and doesn't like and how that person would turn out as an adult.  It also takes away THEIR freedom to be a unique individual on their own.

I am DEFINITELY against changing a child's DNA to GIVE them a disability!  Growing up with one is no fun and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy!  If I were deaf and wanted to change the DNA on my child so that it too would be hearing impaired, is the worst thing I think a parent can do to a child!  I would consider that child endangerment or what ever it could be called!

I think I am for/against the idea.  But if I could only choose one option, I would have to be against it all the way.  Like someone else mentioned, once DNA is being messed with, no telling what may come out of it.  Best leave things as they are.

Science Fiction someone mentioned?  Going to the moon used to be science fiction but it really happened.  I would hate to see this thing become a reality.

Oh, BTW, my son doesn't have DDD and as far as I can tell neither do any of his kids.  Hopefully it stopped with me.  But he is probably still a carrier of the gene, just it isn't prominent in him.

Sorry to have rambled on.  This is definitely a touchy subject as one can see the pros but also the cons.  Which one out weighs the other?
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