Even minor tampering with nature is apt to bring serious consequences, as did the introduction of a single chemical (DDT). Genetic engineering is tampering on a monumental scale, and nature will surely exact a heavy toll for this trespass. ~ Eva Novotny
Remember Dren from the 2009 sci-fi movie Splice? A shudder runs down my spine every time I visualize that genetically engineered monstrous creation of the overly ambitious scientist couple in that movie! Agreed that genetic engineering opens the doors to a lot of scientific breakthrough, especially in the domain of medicine and developing cures for terminal and degenerative diseases, you never know when too much curiosity to find out what it feels like to play God may lead to such a predicament as shown in the aforementioned movie!
No, don't misunderstand me here. I am not against genetic engineering - only as far as it is used for curing diseases and making the world a better place for all of nature's creatures. However, I am staunchly against the use of genetic engineering for selfishly forwarding human progress at the expense of nature and for playing with genes to create monstrous creatures or to sacrifice the natural aspects of life - the basic flaws - that make humans what they are.
If you take a closer look at the arguments against genetic engineering, most of them are not anti-genetic engineering. Rather, they are against certain uses of genetic engineering that can pose serious threats to nature by altering life forms to manufacture genetically tailored robots instead of allowing life to take its natural course. That being said, let's go through some of the most significant points put forward by detractors of genetic engineering, justifying why genetic engineering should not be allowed to take a free course.
What are the Cons of Genetic Engineering?
- Let's begin with two of the strongest religious arguments against genetic engineering as put down by religious heads of most faiths all across the world. The first argument is that God, the supreme omniscient and sentient being, created this world and all organisms. He designed the different distinct species such that no interbreeding would be possible, keeping the species separate forever for reasons best known to Him.
Since everything in nature is designed the way they are for our own good, the establishment of boundaries between species is also for everyone's own benefit and by flouting this boundary via genetic engineering, humanity and all of nature is bound to suffer unimaginable consequences. The second argument, put forward by proponents of Christianity, states that genetically modifying creatures and attempting to create new life forms is akin to challenging the authority of God and by doing so, humanity is inviting the same fate as Lucifer did by challenging God's authority - eternal damnation in Hell.
- Nature and life are beautiful only as long as there is an element of unpredictability and vulnerability in them. Artificially tailor-made organisms lack the natural touch of ingenuity and are, therefore, predictable and lack uniqueness. Would you still be thrilled on the appearance of blooms if you knew for sure that the genetically engineered rose-bush is bound to bloom? Wouldn't that totally rob you of the excitement and apprehension that accompanies putting your soul into gardening and then waiting for the blooms in unsure anticipation?
- A major cause of concern pertains to the issue of genetic cloning - specially human cloning. Cloning a person is a direct violation to his/her gift of uniqueness that nature has bestowed upon him/her from the moment he/she started taking shape in his/her mother's womb!
- The fear of manufacturing designer babies also looms large. It would be really unfortunate if parents begin to support the concept of designer babies en masse! There won't be the joy of bringing up a unique individual any more nor would there be any room for encouraging unique traits or maverick talents in one's kids any more. This would be a world full of selfish, demanding parents who want their kids to have all the advantages of life programmed into their genes. This way, they are both shirking their own responsibility to mold the character of their offspring as well as denying the child the right to his own, unique life!
- If indiscriminate genetic engineering became the norm of the day, it would be a matter of time when a second wave of racial supremacy and discrimination on the basis of racial genetics will emerge similar to the one that took place during the Nazi era.
While some of you may find it irresistible to offer counter arguments to the above points, consider this - even the most basic cough syrup induces some side effects when it enters your system besides the intended effect of relieving or suppressing cough. While genetic engineering can do a whole lot of good if used for the betterment of life, imagine the side effects that the alteration of genes - the bit units of the entire, complex program of life - can bring about if even a little mishap were to take place during the alteration process!
Every argument has two sides, the pros and the cons. Since the scope of this article was the cons, I've stuck to the arguments against genetic engineering only. I hope you found the above arguments insightful. However, the arguments in support of genetic engineering hold as much water as the ones against it but that would be the subject for another discussion in the future.