Pros and cons of genetic alteration


Do you want to be exceptionally good at sports? Excluding the fact that you may be naturally gifted and/or you have trained for sports most extensively, but imagine becoming far better than everyone else without making any effort. If so, genetic alteration is already considered a “cheat” in the game of life.

In the Keeper of the Isis Light, Guardian has surgically and genetically modified Olwen to make her stronger and more adapted to planet Isis. Basically genetic alternation would involve manipulating genes in DNA in human to create satisfactory effect, preferably stronger and healthier body. In reality the technology is still in its infancy, we still have to figure out which gene is responsible for what and the possible side effects. It is a very controversial issue.

Genetic alteration is supported by many people as many often think of human enhancements. In the book, Guardian thickened Olwen’s skin so that it would be opaque to the ultra-violet rays, gave her an extra eyelid to protect her eyes from Ra, deepened her ribcage and extended her vascular system so that she can store much more oxygen at each breath, and widened her nostrils to help her breath more fully. Also he strengthened her ankles and thickened her fingernails to help her climb. These modifications proved to be crucial in Olwen’s survival and freedom, and no doubt it will be helpful when we can set foot on Mars. In the field of treating diseases created by genetic disorder, such as cancer and downs syndrome, genetic alteration can put an end to those and save millions of lives. And for those who wish for the same kind of physical, mental or maybe even emotional improvements that Olwen got, unfortunately only time can ripen perfection in this tricky procedure. Then all of us might be smart and equal.

Prior to the mastering of that kind of technology, there are oppositions that are currently hindering full-force research programs. With ethic issues on top of the list, religious groups say it is against the Bible and God’s intention of human creation, while nonreligious groups say it is tampering with the fundamental structure of human species and disrupting the natural life and evolution process. If genetically alteration exists, only the very rich can afford to have it done on them, and after that they will be “superhuman”, better than all the people on Earth in all aspects. If you were to meet such person beating you in everything you are good at on their first try, and knowing the fact that they are genetically modified to be better than you or anyone will ever be, they will not last very long on the society. Olwen was looked at as a freak nature of human species because of the side effects. Speaking of side effects, and future consequences are the main concerns in the science community; it is just too hard to anticipate all the side effects that could result from altering genes due to their numerous interactions with millions of other genes in a human body.

Genetic alteration is a hot practice in science fiction, and an ongoing research and battle with ethics in real life. I am sure that nobody wants to become an Olwen, but everybody probably wants enhancements. These people are the kind who in an online multiplayer video game would use hacks and cheats to gain unfair advantage over their fair play opponent. In the end the opponent will just quit, making the game empty, because who would have the interest to compete knowing that the cheater will always win with their enhancements (hacks and cheats). Game hosts are making every effort to ban these people. And in reality, the people of the future will most likely deny genetically enhanced people from participating in sports, contests, etc., and would stay away from them as far as possible.