Resources for Teachers and Students
Scientists recently hit a major milestone that could one day ease dangerous hereditary problems in babies. For the first time ever, scientists corrected a genetic mutation that can lead to a serious condition that enlarges the heart. Worries about mistakes and legal issues mean it will be a while before the gene editing technique shows up in clinical trials. Also, the public is doubtful. One poll found 65 percent of Americans think it should be illegal to alter the genes of unborn babies to reduce disease risk.
Class discussion: Would you support altering human genes to eliminate deadly genetic defects? Would you support gene editing to enhance human babies – making them smarter, stronger, or live longer? What are the potential dangers of altering human genes? Do we need laws to control genetic research? Would restrictive U.S. laws simply give an advantage to researchers in other countries? Will human beings be able to decide exactly how we will evolve? Would “enhanced” beings threaten the rest of humanity? What happened to other human species in the past?
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