Ethics of editing: Is genetic engineering worth the risk?
If you could prevent your future child from having a life-threatening disease, would you do it? What if you could prevent addictions or the development of bad habits before they were even born? What if you could genetically engineer your child to be taller, or if you could select their eye color or even their sex? How much of this would you be OK with—and which of these things give you “the ick”?
Joyce Harper, professor of reproductive science at University College London, says genetic engineering is a slippery slope that raises a lot of moral and ethical questions. She argues that just because we can do these things, doesn’t mean that we necessarily should. She says that gene editing could deepen class and cultural divides, especially if only the wealthy few can access and afford the technology. Sarah Chan, chancellor’s fellow in ethics at University of Edinburgh, agrees that while there is some risk with genetic engineering, there are also risks if we don’t pursue it. She argues that gene editing has the power to create a more just and healthy society. Listen to the Doha Debates Podcast as they debate the promises and pitfalls of genetic engineering—is this technology our future, or should it remain science fiction?
Doha Debates Podcast is a production of Doha Debates and FP Studios. This episode is hosted by Joshua Johnson.