Saving an Endangered Epecies: the Question of Ethics

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The amount of gene disorders in American has risen significantly over the past few years. According to Global Genes, “rare diseases affect one in [every] ten Americans.” From this statistic, it is fairly assumed that 30 million people have a rare disease in the United States alone (Global Genes). Food and Drug Administration processes are long and expensive. The waiting time to get a new medication or therapy approved is too long to keep up with the newly emerging health needs of citizens.

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The expensive doctor bills and repercussions of a gene disorder can be drastically reduced with a new emerging procedure called, gene-editing. However, many ethical implications have arisen during the experimental phase of genome modification. According to a self-conducted interview with gene specialist, Dr. David Baunoch, “gene-editing, also known as genome editing, is completed through a process called genetic engineering” (Baounch Interview). This process allows an individual to make adjustments in an organism’s DNA makeup. David Baounch starts with replacing an organism’s current DNA with synthetic DNA. The result forces an abrupt change in a chromosome that induces the desired nucleotide switch previously intended. Small DNA changes can be accomplished as well as DNA removal of a section. Gene-editing, if done correctly, will fix a gene anomaly. Making the lifestyle of an organism more relaxing and pleasing. This process can also be done on food, allowing mass production of a somewhat synthetic product. Genetic engineering is fairly new and still in the experimental phases.

A new form of genetic modification has been discovered called clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR. This new approach is more efficient and cost-effective than other approaches in the past. According to, “Timeline of Scientific Discovery: Gene Editing”, DNA research started in 1856 with the father of genetics, Gregor Mendel. This led to the discovery of identifying DNA and DNA structures done in 1869 and later in 1953. Through the years 1962 and 1983 a number of DNA discoveries were made; discoveries included, DNA code, sequencing, and copying. Jumping forward to 2002, this was when the first gene-editing projects were completed. Today, scientists work on coining and perfecting CRISPR-Cas9, the main approach for gene-editing (Timeline of.) Gene-editing has the potential future to change an organism’s way of life, and possibly recreate the human race. This type of discovery could eradicate faulty genomes, causing overall better health. Although there are clear advantages to gene-editing and perfecting CRISPR-Cas9, there are disadvantages such as ecological disequilibrium, non-therapeutic usages, and Eugenics. Gene-editing is not short of long-term dangers if Americans make genome ticking legal. One huge concern is discussed in the article, “Ethical Issues in Genome Editing using CRISPR/Cas9 System”. This article talks about how ecological disequilibrium could be taken into effect if gene-editing is overused or carelessly performed. “Since gene drive is still operating in created beings, the possibility of mutations off-target continues and may increase each generation…there is a risk of transferring modified sequences” (Ethical Issues). Furthermore, this could also lead to new consequences such as plagues being newly introduced. Specific laws and protocols must be put into place if the human race seeks to actively use this emerging technology. Ethical altercations are a huge ordeal when it comes to the topic of changing an organism’s DNA makeup.

Genome editing is traditionally sought out to fix a harmful gene through gene therapy. However, non-therapeutic usages could arise and become a thoroughly debated topic. For example, an individual will receive gene therapy to help with their athletic ability, instead of a traditional use like fixing a cancer gene. Questions can arise such as, “If it’s done during development, how can minors give consent?” (Ethical Issues). If this were to occur, some individuals will receive more of a genetically fighting change than others. Non-therapeutic usages could become out of control and affect the population negatively. Lastly, this type of therapy could bring out eugenics and result in a massacre of the human race. According to the book, “Genetic Engineering” Eugenics is, “a term coined by Sir Francis Galton…It means to use breeding to both eliminate undesirable genetic traits and add desired traits to improve the characteristics of an organism or species” (Gerdes 43). This set of beliefs could easily cause one population of genetically “superior” beings into thinking they are the only acceptable race. This could lead to mass homicides, much like Adolf Hitler’s plan to create the “ideal” race. They would be operating under the preconceived notion that they are better because of gene therapy. These individuals would firmly believe they offer more than non-genetic altered individuals do.

Although there are clear advantages to gene-editing and perfecting CRISPR-Cas9 the disadvantages of ecological disequilibrium, non-therapeutic usages, and Eugenics seem to be an arising issue. Despite these preconceived problems, there are also significant advantages to gene-editing. Advantages such as, life-saving therapy, saving an endangered species, and open a window of opportunities for the future. When gene altering is nailed down to a science, it can save and better improve health for all incoming lives. CRISPR could fix faulty gene codes in organisms and save a life that would be previously hopeless for survival. According to Futurism, “Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a heart condition that affects roughly 1 in every 500 people worldwide.” With gene editing, this previously incurable heart condition could be completely cured and prevented for future and current generations. CRISPR could be a life-saving therapy, bringing in the promise of healthier children. In addition to gene-editing being a life-saving therapy, genetic engineering has the power to save endangered species.

The book, “Genetic Engineering” dices the matter of cloning, “cloning endangered species…has an important place in plans to manage species that are in great danger of extinction” (Gerdes 68). Saving endangered species can be done by introducing new genes into a gene pool, as well as by transferring preserved embryos into an organism. This new technology can potentially bring back an extinct species through the preserved tissue in DNA or fossils. The collective human race has the responsibility to take care of and nurture endangered animals back into flourishing. Through genetic engineering, individuals can successfully protect the wildlife on planet Earth. Gene editing opens up a window to amazing new possibilities. For example, the successful study was completed by a Biological Science Database, “RPE65 gene therapy slows cone loss in Rpe65-deficient dogs.” This experiment showed the amazing effects of gene therapy on dogs. Dogs with a deficient and deteriorating eye disease were taken into a clinical trial and given gene therapy on their faulty gene. The experiment proved to slow cone loss in particular dogs. Preventing the further deterioration of their eye. This study was just one of many success stories.

Genetic engineering provides the chance for individuals to start a family, even if this was not a possibility before. Furthermore, gene-editing has the potential to create healthier foods, and provide cheaper food to impoverished environments. This use of therapy has incredible potential when put into use. Gene-editing, partially CRISPR, is opening up new scientific discoveries for organisms. The effects of these successful experiments show the wondrous and scary ability of doors that could be opened from this. There are clear advantages to gene-editing and perfecting CRISPR-Cas9. Such as, life-saving therapy, saving an endangered species, and open a window of opportunities for the future. There are disadvantages such as ecological disequilibrium, non-therapeutic usages, and Eugenics. Every minute of every year, new discoveries are being made about genes. The human race has come so far in scientific discoveries. How many people could have changed from a harmful gene anomaly is unfathomable. How many of your loved ones could have been saved from CRISPR? 

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Saving an Endangered Epecies: The Question of Ethics. (2021, Jun 01). Retrieved from