The truth about genetic modifications is revealed

Ellie Wrage, Opinion Editor

In 2018, the world’s first genetically modified babies were born. Exposing the world to something that was once unknown, the technologies and sciences of genetic modification have continued to evolve despite criticism and concern. By permanently altering fetuses, the world enters into an era that can’t help but feel like Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel The Giver. To be frank, this is scary. Despite one’s ethical, moral and religious beliefs, I believe society must look at genetic modification from an outside perspective in favor of ultimately advancing society. Concerning genetic diversity and social class, amongst others, I am led to argue that people should not be allowed to genetically modify fetuses. 

With genetic diversity, natural selection allows us the advantage or disadvantage of certain traits accredited to our genes. Certain animals, for example, survive simply off the fact that their genes allow them to camouflage. I don’t know about everyone, but I would prefer a world where people, like plants and animals, stand out. Life’s not always about being fair or having the same opportunities, rather it’s about learning and growing. When genetically altering babies, some may create a level playing field, taking away the competition in life. If everyone is the same, how are we supposed to grow as a society? Perhaps this conversation of creating a level playing field among the gene pool leads to a greater conversation about society as a whole, but for now, I will stick to the simplistic belief that diversity is needed within our genes. 

Furthermore, genetic modification will continue to separate society by social class. A study by Pew Research Center identified that a middle-class family of three may earn an average income of $48,500 to $145,500 per year. The low-end cost of genetic modification doesn’t begin to compare to the yearly income of the average middle-class family. With that being said, the cost of genetic modification will further enhance social class gaps. With the possibility of every celebrity paying for “the perfect baby,” society risks falling into a plutocracy. Allowing parents to build their ideal child, in-vitro genetic modification produces children who will one day grow up, lacking flaws and prohibitions that their lower-class generation has grown accustomed to. Now, it is not to be said that every rich person will pay for genetic modification; however, when will enough be enough? At first, one person may hope to stop a cancer gene from mutating, but who is to say that one day, people won’t pay for their daughter to look like Kim Kardashian? Once again, this is scary. 

So, while genetic modification seems ideal to some, I fail to understand how the benefits outweigh the costs. I honestly do not believe people should be allowed to genetically modify fetuses and I hope that society doesn’t normalize such medical practices.