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Do you think we should continue genetic engineering?

Hi, Genetic engineering is basically altering/modifying the genes of humans or other species like plants.
Of course there are benefits that come with it for example humans can correct defective genes of their fetus or mayble plants can be more yielding and resistant to pests.
However there are also other concerns like humans exploiting it to alter genes of fetus to make them more beautiful , formation of superweeds, maybe poor farmers cannot benefit from the HYVs and are at a disadvantage, and more importantly a question that lingers in my head is, is it wrong to modify the genes that we have innately maybe due to religious or moral reasons.
Lets debate on this questions-should we continue genetic engineering? if yes why, if no why.

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    Jul 3 2013: "alter genes of fetus to make them more beautiful"

    and this is bad ... how?

    "formation of superweeds"

    and this is bad ... how?

    "poor farmers cannot benefit"

    poor people can't get the newest technology, whatever it is, gene modification or machinery. we can't oppose progress based on that.

    "maybe due to religious or moral reasons"

    if you have moral or religious reasons, don't modify your genes, or your cattle's genes, or your child's genes. you don't have to.
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      Jul 29 2013: Are you saying superweeds aren't bad? Superweeds are unwanted plants that have become resistant to herbicides meaning more and stronger herbicides have to be used to kill the super weeds, which means more herbicides get into our system through air, water, and soil. The environment gets polluted, the farmer has to be spend more money on herbicides for constantly stronger superweeds, the consumer has to pay more to offset these costs, and the only ones making money are the ones selling herbicide who are often the ones selling the GMO's.
  • Jul 3 2013: If many people believe that we should NOT continue genetic engineering, I don't thonk that we can enforce this policy throughout the world. For example, the nuclear weapons are probably the most horrible disaster which could happen right now, but we already have7 or 8 countries have the NW today, and there are at least 2 more trying to develop them. So in this fractionated world, it is impossible to detect if some one is secretly developing some tiny seeds or insects or rats. Also, just like nuclear reactions, even there was only one country researched and made the early nuclear bombs, eventually other countries will find a way to make them too.
    So the problem is not whether we should or shouldn't continue, because the genie is already out of the bottle, so to speak. The only preventive or defensive measure is to set up another international limiting agreement on the GE biological WEAPONS, in addition to the nuclear and chemical and any other weapons of mass destruction. However, GE seeds or animals which benefit our needs should not be restricted as long as they are tested as safe.
  • Jun 30 2013: I do not think we should stop genetic engineering (GE) research.

    I think GE products should be kept tightly sealed in the lab until we have a legal infrastructure to assure that the proper people can be held responsible for any and all damages.

    Current corporate law was developed to protect investors from such liability, to encourage the development of new products. It worked very well when new products sold to thousands of people and took years to spread around a single country. A global market, and its consequences, was not a consideration.

    Now the potential damages from GE and other super powerful technologies are on a scale that could not have been imagined a century ago. The legal infrastructure is out of date and completely inadequate. The global market can produce many billions in profits from a very small investment, with no commensurate risk. So the legal system, by providing no means to compensate the people harmed, and providing no accountability for that harm, encourages extremely risky endeavors.

    Scientists, bio-engineers, and entrepreneurs are now telling the public that GE products are safe, when simple common sense tells us that would require studies that go on for decades and, in many cases, multiple human generations. These people are not lying, they have convinced themselves. If I thought I could feed the starving millions of the world, while making billions of dollars for myself, I would be convinced too.

    GE is potentially the most beneficial technology that mankind will ever produce. It will be with us forever more. We should not rush into the production of GE products and spreading them around the globe until the risk/benefit analysis is comprehensive and complete, and the legal infrastructure is adequate.
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    Jun 30 2013: Here is a TED talk related to your question:
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    Jul 29 2013: Yes! we definitely should.
    But as with all technologies, we need to have some rules about how we use the technology... And respect the "do no harm" principle.

    Other than that: use it for the better, make new species, try and figure out our code of life! Make tastier and healthier food. Make DNA enhancers through retroviruses if that is safe enough.

    So many potential benefits... would be silly to abandon
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    Jul 29 2013: We should continue to research genetic engineering. We should use our findings in the real world on a case by case basis with strict standards and only after we as a society have matured enough to use such powerful tools. The problem with much of the genetic engineering today is in the application of it before it is fully understood. There is such pressure by corporations and from the markets to get genetically engineered products into the hands of the consumer and generating profits. That shouldn't have the extraordinary influence it has. Societies, and specifically governments, need time to adjust to these new technologies. We are capable of building nuclear weapons but that doesn't mean we should use them and by rushing out to use them in non-weaponized forms we still caused major disasters that ail us even to this day. The same is going to happen, is in fact, already happening with genetic engineering. Do all the research you want. That part I'm sure of. The application part is where it gets messy. Tread cautiously. Here be dragons.
  • Jul 17 2013: Wait a second, making your child more beautiful is a bad thing? How so? Why would you ever want an ugly child, furthermore, why would you ever want a child being born with a mental disease that was caused genetically, like schizophrenia?
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    Jul 3 2013: I've been researching on this topic a lot for my school projects, and one of the most powerful arguments (by Lee M. Silver, I believe), who expressed that the biggest problem will be the difference between the High End population and lower end. If the rich people get acces to genetic altering that results in their children being more intellectuel, more athletic, without disease or future illness - it will create a bigger difference between the two classes. It will lock people in place, seeing as coming from a lower class to the richer parts of society would be a lot harder, seeing as they have genetic benefits, whereas to this day, the genetic pool is a random chance.

    – I do not believe it's a process able to stop either. That was the conclusion to my research. The conclusion was basically that judging from the progress within the technology and the debates found to this date, it will be best for us to confront the technology head-on. Some countries will get it, and some won't - those who gets it first will force the others due to better ability of working. We should appoint a council who administrates which genes are legal at a time, and evaluate every step to conclude whet ever or not the gene can be used or discontinued in the future.
    • Jul 17 2013: So you would rather rich people be stupid as well? If only a fraction of the population could be more intelligent, could be more improved, that would be better for the human race than having everyone being not so smart and not so good looking.
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        Jul 20 2013: Heh, good point - I guess in my point of view I believe it's more ethical to think of a society where people can feel as they do now - that they have many peers and people to connect with - a society where we go amongst each other. I'm afraid Germline Engineering will bring forth an era where the rich are intellectual, beautiful, disease-less, immune to cancer etc. and the poor are the exact opposite, unless they're lucky. This would mean a minority of a society would basically use the majority as a sort of slavery - dividing the society into two bits instead of one unit as we are now.

        I think your point is good, considering that it may improve our economy and intellect, but seen from a humanistic point of view we would go back to a more primitive society in the way that the High Class would feel "superior" to the lower. I know that's also happening now, but this would split society
        • Jul 22 2013: You write as if right now everyone is stupid, ugly, and disease ridden, as if today all humans are on a single level and are equal and that genetic modification will create class divisions: the smart versus the stupid, the beautiful versus the ugly, the healthy versus the diseased. But such divisions already exist, and the people who are smart, beautiful, etc. are so primarily because they were lucky enough to have their best genes expressed, and I don't understand why we shouldn't take even more people into this superior state of existence, even if the ones who get in are primarily the children of wealthy people. Basically, the reason the "High Class" was a terrible thing to have in ancient times was because the people it comprised of weren't always smart or competent compared to average people (I mean, you could have a complete idiot become the ruler of vast lands because he happened to be the child of the previous king), and so it became efficient to instead give everyone the chance to get elected so that smart, competent people, no matter what level of society they came from, could have a chance to rule the state. However, the existence of the "High Class" would be a great thing if everyone in it were actually very intelligent and capable, something genetic modification could result in.
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          Jul 29 2013: No, that wasn't a good point. He's making you assume that more intelligent and more improved means that those people will also act ethically and fairly and morally and won't take advantage of the poorer and stupider people. BUT that's exactly what many of the rich and intelligent do today. They take advantage of the poor. They take advantage of the stupid. You really think that making some people richer and smarter and all that is automatically going to make the world a better place?
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        Jul 29 2013: That's not necessarily true. I tend to agree with you, but you would have to measure the benefits to society of this small group of smarter people and balance it out against the costs to society. The costs would be that it creates a lot of envy and jealousy, it creates a class system, it creates a system that can be abused by the smaller, smarter class of people, because smarter doesn't equal fairer.

        "If only a fraction of the population could more intelligent, could be more improved" what stops them from taking advantage of that and abusing their powers and abilities and subjecting the poor and the stupid to their unfair, immoral, unethical rule? Why should I assume that the fraction who have the improvements and intelligence will do the right thing with it?
        • Jul 29 2013: Well, you simply are going off the philosophical belief that one is to be treated well even if he/she is incompetent. The reason I dislike the fact that the rich take advantage of the poor today is because by doing so, they prevent intelligent poor people who have a lot of potential from realizing their potential (example: a poor child grows up to be menial laborer instead of a rocket scientist or a doctor because the rich never gave him an education), but in fact, if that child were indeed stupid, were indeed incompetent, I would be perfectly fine with him being ill-treated and taken advantage of by those who are superior so that they could reach their potential, those with less potential are worth less than those with more potential. And also, what I'm saying is that division and envy already exists, the smarter will always be hurting the weaker, but the more people we can take to a superior state of existence the better, because we are saving them from being idiots who are being taken advantage of by the more intelligent, instead of a small fraction being superior, a bigger percentage can be superior.
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        Jul 29 2013: "I would be perfectly fine with him being ill-treated and taken advantage of by those who are superior so that they could reach their potential, those with less potential are worth less than those with more potential."

        Did you really just say that? You know who shares that rhetoric don't you?
        • Jul 29 2013: Yeah, yeah, I know the Nazis, the old demonization by association approach, a popular strategy amongst the politically correct pseudo-intellectuals who eat up all the standard moral principles (which, by the way, were born by some philosopher pulling some philosophical axiom out of his ass a long time ago) without ever questioning them. Well, Daniel, how about you question the substance of my point without playing off the people who said it before, and who instead are awful because of entirely different reasons (the main reason the Nazis are hated is because they killed perfectly capable people simply based off their religion, not for eliminating a few useless retards) . In fact you cannot ever prove your point that all people are entitled to be given a certain standard of living, no matter how useful they are because saying so is simply stating a philosophical assumption. However, being practical and allowing everyone to reach their potential actually makes much more sense as it recognizes the reality that not everyone is equal.
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        Jul 29 2013: Rajiv, my fire-breathing friend, I'd be happy to question the substance of your point, but first would you kindly point it out to me, because I cannot find anything of substance anywhere in what you've written.
        • Jul 29 2013: I'd love to, basically, (I don't think I explained it very well, sorry for that) my underlining basis is the fact that no philosophical belief ( eg: definitions of right or wrong, or any rights (or entitlements, depends on what you want to call them)) can be proven, instead each philosophy claiming to be "just" is based off philosophical assumptions (such as "all humans are equal" and "all humans deserve food, water and shelter" ) things that are intended to be applied regardless of the situation or usefulness of the person or people, things INCORRECTLY seen as fundamental truths. Instead, I believe that, in the absence of any other way to measure human beings that relies on reality instead of assumption, we should measure the worth of humans based on the potential for them to be productive, that is, what will a given human, if given education and sustenance, be able to achieve and produce (whether it may be an idea or a method, or a tangible product) that would benefit his/her society the most. I realize that such a measure does not indicate how good or bad this person is, after all, God (if he/she/it exists) may favor those based on a different metric, a different quality, but it is foolish to judge people based on pre-conceived notions of good and bad, for we do not truly know what good or bad is, we only assume certain things are good and others bad. So this is my point, and the rationale behind it in summation: We do not know what is philosophically/morally right or wrong, so lets instead measure things and people by how much they benefit us and improve our well-being".
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        Jul 30 2013: It is unjust of you to lump things like political theory and religious doctrine in with "philosophical assumptions" and "philosophical belief" and, furthermore, do you realize that you're own argument is a philosophical stance?

        My own stance, that of natural rights, inalienable, self-evident, and all such "fundamental truths" (which you say are incorrect) are also said to be incorrect in the eyes of philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham in 'Critique of the Doctrine of Inalienable, Natural Rights' and Edmund Burke in 'Reflections on the Revolution in France" and even Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 'The Social Contract.'

        You're not standing apart from centuries of philosophical debate on this topic, you're just taking one side and then for some reason you're standing there lambasting the other side for philosophizing and failing to realize that you are still philosophizing, too. I don't even think you realize that your argument is so old and well-known it has a name, a philosophical term all its own. You're citing me for a naturalistic fallacy, saying that just because I think all this human equality is naturally occurring doesn't mean I can rely on it being natural to equate it was goodness or being right.
        • Jul 30 2013: I certainly agree (at least in part) with Bentham, Burke, and Rousseau (and that is whom I am influenced by), but my beliefs are not philosophical, they are practical, because they do not assume to be morally/philosophically/fundamentally true, but are instead designed so as to increase the efficiency and overall well-being of a given society REGARDLESS OF WHAT IS (philosophically speaking) RIGHT OR WRONG. It is true that I do mention fundamentals, but only to point out that the philosophical axioms of Inalienable rights have not been PROVEN to be fundamental, that is a statement of pure, some would say scientific, fact, not a philosophical statement.

          Honestly, philosophical assumptions have as much substance as religious doctrine, in that both things rely on assumptions or so called "fundamental truths" for their points to be valid.

          Yes, just because you think human equality is naturally occurring (why you think that I don't understand, when you clearly see some humans being inherently smarter and more capable to benefit their societies than others ) doesn't mean you can rely on it being right, because its not about what you THINK when you cannot back up your thoughts with even a shred of evidence, philosophical claims aren't valid, anything can be right or wrong. Instead you should realize that morals, ethics, and all philosophy should be thrown out the window, especially when it starts to affect the real world, and instead we should base things on their practical value.
        • Jul 30 2013: First and foremost, please don't try the de-humanization approach, just because I'm not like you, doesn't mean I'm not human, you don't have to subscribe to a philosophical code to be "human", instead you can decide what you want, realize that your time here on Earth is limited, and make the most of it by arguing for a society that values what you value without paying homage to a pre-conceived doctrine. It is just as "human" to murder and rape as it is to love and help, and the fact that you instead try to demonize me by ignoring the broad scope of the human condition, instead choosing to re-define "humanity" as just what you embody, is utterly shameful and is a testament to how far people like you are willing to go to attempt to justify your unjustifiable beliefs.

          I understand that not all philosophy is un-provable, propositions such as "I think therefore I am" are indeed self-proving, but the philosophy we discussed regarding human rights is indeed steeped in assumption, assumptions about the worth of a human life regardless of its practical value, and although such notions include logical deductions, the deductions themselves stem from assumptions or axioms, thus rendering their conclusions invalid.

          And Daniel, pardon my language but please cut the BS, a mentally retarded person incapable of even basic speech IS NOT PRACTICALLY USEFUL, and supporting such a person is not efficient in the slightest (maybe they will be able to cure such people and rid them of their retardation in the future, but right now allowing them to starve is the most best policy a truly efficient government can adopt). Sustaining people because there now useless abilities MIGHT be useful in the future is a truly inefficient approach, and indeed a very risky one at that. Instead if we invest in people with the skills needed for TODAY, the society would prosper the maximum amount.
        • Jul 30 2013: One more thing to consider, I'm pretty sure our ancestors would look down shamefully at you, Daniel, did they accept their faults and the fact that they were bound to die of disease? No, they created medicine. Did they, upon seeing the threat of large empires on the horizon, accept otherwise inevitable military defeat? No, they created advanced weapons and military strategies. Did they, upon gazing at the vast bodies of water before them, loose hope of ever exploring this vast world? No, they created ships and sailed. Covering down and accepting your weaknesses without doing anything shouldn't be seen as something to be proud of, it ought to be seen as something to be ashamed of, in order for the population to continue to improve itself. You may want to live in a society that is depressed all of the time, but that's definitely not my utopia.

          And no you're completely wrong, if you need the notion "natural rights" to make you feel like you matter, you're obviously a parasite who has no practical ability, the people who have done the most, been the most productive (or even relatively productive), don't need to rely on philosophical assumption to feel good, but instead on their own achievements.

          Your proposition that natural rights make people more motivated or more efficient, doesn't make any sense, at all. Eliminating this bizarre notion of natural rights and affirming that one's worth is dependent completely on his/her productivity, is obviously the best way to motivate him/her to be as productive as he/she can possibly be.
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        Jul 30 2013: No, I'm sorry, Rajiv, but I do think that natural rights develop out of natural law. One cannot be human without morals, ethics, and philosophy. It is literally impossible to have thoughts if one throws them out the window, because one has then done away with all frames of reference. The mind requires a value system of some sort, that is a fundamental aspect of the mind.

        There is a lot of philosophy that is not assumption, that is logic-based and valid through reasoning alone, and then there are types of knowledge that are proven true or false through the experience testing the reasoning behind them. For some reason you seem to be ignoring all of this, and again you have created this enormous bonfire into which you are throwing everything you label philosophical.

        Some humans may APPEAR to be inherently smarter and more capable to benefit their societies, but APPEARANCES are deceiving. The same way that a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, so is the society in regards to individuals.

        I know that 'right' and 'wrong' don't always mean much, especially since what is wrong now may be considered right in the future, or has been considered right in the 'past' and vice versa. But so to do our definitions of intelligence and capabilities. The people that you want to promote above all the others may seem to be intelligent and capable in your perception of what those qualities are, but they may not be what is considered intelligence or capability further down the road. How do you know that there wouldn't be more peace and compassion if people focused more on accepting their weaknesses and their faults, the things that make them human. Natural rights are what allow us to accept ourselves, feel that we belong and that we matter, and this in turn allows us to make a fuller contribution to society. If you want to take away people's sense of natural rights, you're removing their ability and desire to contribute to this efficient society you have in mind.
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    Jul 3 2013: I understand the possibility of "superweeds." Has anybody here heard of kudzu? It's a superweed that's not even genetically engineered.

    I understand the fact that Monsanto patents its seeds and that cuts out poor farmers. We will have to fix that with the political process and make sure gene patents expire like drug patents or any other intellectual property.

    We should continue genetically modified foods, for sure. The animus toward GMO food is mostly a luxury of fat white people. There are 7 billion people on this planet and each and every one of them would like to eat three meals a day. Every day. Food production is falling behind. It would be helpful if more people were vegetarians. It would be helpful if free birth control was available world wide. But those things require cultural shifts we may not have the time to wait for.
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      Jul 29 2013: Susan, there is no way to control the spread of GMO once it has entered the environment, meaning people that don't want to grow or eat GMO products don't even a say in the matter. GMO's are pollinated by other plants and pollinate other plants in return. They spread into the wild. They continue to evolve in new and unexpected ways.

      The problem most people have with GMOs is that they were nowhere and now suddenly they are everywhere and yet we still know next to nothing about how this science really works in the real world. And there is no 'redo' button. It puts at huge risk if a certain type of crop becomes entirely one type of GMO and then suddenly that crop has no resistance to a superbug or superweed and there goes the food countless people needed to eat in order to survive.
  • Jun 30 2013: You are assuming that we can stop this. I don't believe that you can.
    • Jun 30 2013: i did not mention anything about stopping. Should we continue or not?
      • Jul 1 2013: You are right that you didn't mention that IF we can't, isn't the issue moot?
        The less you try, the more you'll agree.