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Genome editing is a form of genome engineering in which the genes of the organisms change of deleting, insertion or replacement. It is the modification f the genes in an organism using the engineering nucleases. Te induced nucleases create some site-specific double-strands breaks (DSB) at the desired locations in the original genome. Currently, there are four major modes of engineering nucleases being used in the society (Smith et al., 2014). The first is called mega nucleases-based engineering. The second is zinc- finger-based engineering which involves nonspecific DNA cutting enzymes. Lastly is the transcription activator-like effecter based nucleases. However, despite the benefits that are associated with genome editing, the process may lead to off-target activities. The thesis of this paper is that genome technology is an unethical process that might lead to danger and goes above the human religious belief (Smith et al., 2014).
Opportunities of genome editing
The major opportunities where genome editing is used in the society is medicine field and in the agricultural sector. In medicine, it is used to prevent the transmission of inherited genetic diseases. Furthermore, in agriculture, it is used to increase the food production rates in farmed animals and also in crops (Smith et al., 2014).
To avoid the transmission of inherited genetic diseases
Genome editing is very widely used in the medical applications to modify the reproductions genes to prevent the occurrence of a certain condition during from the mother to the offspring (Ormond et al., 2017). For instance, genome editing will one day offer an alternative approach to prevent the occurrence of in-heritance disease such as cystic fibrosis. This is achieved through research that has made it possible to correct some disease-causing mutations (McCarthy, McLeod & Ginsburg, 2013). The process is done to the non-visible embryo. In addition to this, genome genes editing machinery placed in the bodies of mosquitoes that are meant to spread malaria bacteria will prevent them from spreading the organism to the bodies of the human (Michael & VanBuren, 2015). The most form of gene editing that is used in this case is CRISPR or that CAS9, which employs a defense system bacteria that is used to protect themselves against the virus. A careful target enzyme is used as a “chemical scissors” which then cuts through a specific part of the double-stranded DNA. The cell’s DNA repair machinery can be exploited to insert the past genetic material (Michael & VanBuren, 2015). Furthermore, genome editing can be used to cure cancerous diseases. The editing allows for very précised DNA surgery. Through genome editing, a mutation in a gene that causes disease can now be repaired using CRISPR (McCarthy, McLeod & Ginsburg, 2013).
To increase the food production rates
Genome editing also holds a considerable impact on the field of food improvements. Rapid growth in the crop DNA sequence information has to lead to dramatic changes and boasts in the crop productions in the agricultural nations (McCarthy, McLeod & Ginsburg, 2013). The bio-informatics capabilities over the last decades have delivered insights in the agricultural field through genetic controls of key agronomic traits. The genome editing has enabled the effect of plants as a result of drought, allergy or malnutrition. It has lead to the establishment of crops that are drought resistance, allergy resistant and crops of nutrition quality (McCarthy, McLeod & Ginsburg, 2013).
Challenges of genome editing
These are the unintended mutation in the genome when the genome editing is being performed. The off-target mutations are observed to predominantly occur when the CRISPR-Cas9 cleaves another DNA sequence within the genomes that are homologous to the target DNA sequence. In most cases, the off-target mutations are very dangerous and deleterious. They can easily cause death or even transformation the original DNA of the human body cells. According to some researchers, the mutations of from CRISPR-Cas9 are much higher than those observed in the mouse or the human adult cell.
High cost of genome editing
The cost of using this technology is very high to the point that most families or individual cannot afford to incorporate it. It is only affordable to the families that are coming from rich countries. The developing countries cannot be in a position to afford the cost of this technology.
Unpredictable effects to the future generation
Genome editing in human embryo using the CRISPR-Cas9 could have unpredictable effects on the future generation. This technology is used for non-therapeutic modification, which opens the door to the loss of diversity in human. Furthermore, genome editing will lead to human eugenics. For instance, last year some researchers successfully changed the coat color in a rat, which suggested that the technology would also lead to a possibility of introducing a pigment change to the human skin through embryonic editing.
The genome editing is a great concern to all the human being global. The technology is viewed in different perspectives among the different people. Some will have a positive opinion towards it while others will have a negative opinion towards it. Due to this, the scientific community should engage in dialogues and conversations to establish guidelines for research involving the genetic modification in the human germ cells (Taber, Dickinson & Wilson, 2014). This discussion should also involve the general public.
Calling a voluntary moratorium: a Voluntary moratorium should be arranged on the genetic modification of the human germ cells (Taber, Dickinson & Wilson, 2014). For instance, the US National Institute of Health has taken the lead in calling for a moratorium on genome editing of the human embryo. The director of the institute issued a statement that banned the NIH-funding research on the genomic editing of the human embryo (Kohn, Porteus & Scharenberg, 2016). This will limit the developing urge by the scientist to practice genome editing in the country. It is advisable that other countries should follow the suit of minimizing the research support of genome editing (Taber, Dickinson & Wilson, 2014).
The scientist will tend to support the genome editing. They argue that the technology is based on preventing the occurrence of a certain phenomenon in the generations to come. For instance, two pillars of the American scientific establishment said that with the necessary safeguard, future use of germ-line gene editing to treat or prevent diseases was a great achievement in the state (Kohn, Porteus & Scharenberg, 2016). Furthermore, the scientist argued that genome editing would not only hold the promise of fixing genetic faults but would also turn cells into miniature factories that would churn out therapeutic chemicals or antibiotics (Kohn, Porteus & Scharenberg, 2016).
Religious-secular approach: this is also called consequentiality. On one side, it urges that the genome editing will aid people in improving the human condition. This is achieved through the elimination of the dangerous mutations in the genes of the human, hence allowing on to give birth to an offspring whom they are genetically related but have no passage of the mutations (Huang et al., 2017).
However, it is the same phenomenon that reverberates change down a generation. It increases concerns about unintended effect whose disadvantages might strongly overweigh the advantages gotten from the genome editing. In this case, the risk is borne to those who had no say in deciding on whether to bear the risk during their birth or not (Huang et al., 2017).
The other ethical concern is about the independent concerns of the people. The people argue about who is the controller of the dominion of the human being. The argument is more concerned about the religious background concerning genome editing (Zhai, Ng & Lie, 2016). God has the whole responsibility of the controlling the existence of humanity and people should not focus on changing the will of God. For instance, during the 1997 cloning policy, Dr. Gilbert argued to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) that human cloning is beyond the role that God has delegated to the humanity (Zhai, Ng & Lie, 2016).
As is discussed above, genome editing, whether it is ZFN, TALENT or current CRISPR-Cas9, has both the positive impact and the negative impact. It represents the next step of our ability to analyze and alter the genetic characters of both the plants and the genes of people. However, the technology might have a negative impact on the generation to come. The children are not given the right of choice of their condition (Ormond et al., 2017). The notion and knowledge of choice it offers might be the downfall in the biblical tale of the Garden of Eden. However, in equal measure science and history argues that the technology has played a vital role in benefiting the health sector of the human beings. A nation should find strategies of how to balance the application of genome editing in the health sectors to balance between the religious and the scientific consideration.
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