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Why We Need to Embrace and Accelerate Human Genetic Modification.
What is a man? A Miserable little pile of (genetic) secrets. Or at least that is how it was for most of human history the essential composition of humans and the building blocks of life was a complete mystery. Why do our bodies know how many arms?, or how many livers? Our Bodies know that when being constructed in the OG 3D Printer (the womb) so how come? At first this was a complete mystery but thankfully humanity has progressed and advanced to the point where we know what are the building blocks of humanity and of Life itself DNA (c'mon we’ve all had high school biology this ain’t new)
Only recently (in the large scale of things) have we known about these building blocks and even less that we’ve known how to play with the blocks themselves. Thanks to newest developments in the fields of genetics such as CRISPR and PASTE, we are getting closer and closer to have the capacity to reengineer the human genome to our will and be able to overcome so many ailments that currently affect millions worldwide and expand humanity’s capabilities beyond our current biological restrictions.
But should we do this sort of thing? Should we undergo such procedures And what are the benefits of having a market structure for such a thing?
Wait But What is All of This?
Human genetic modification (or HGM, because I’m lazy, and also I’m a firm believer of the P.U.M.A protocol [Please Use More Acronyms]) refers to the process of modifying the genetic makeup of an individual's cells. This can be typically accomplished by introducing or removing genetic material through a variety of techniques such as gene editing, gene therapy, and cloning. HGM is a rapidly evolving field, with new techniques and discoveries constantly emerging (not as fast as AI but god damn, keeping up with the latest development in that field is a full time job at this point)
The potential applications of HGM are huge! Ranging from disease prevention and treatment to enhancement of both physical or mental characteristics. This offers an almost endless realm of possibilities for. For example, HGM could be used to eliminate genetic disorders like sickle cell, anemia, type 1 diabetes and many others that are at best a hindrance for living a full healthy life and at worst a horrible condition that puts people in a dire situation affecting their health and cutting their lives short.
Also there is the possibility to enhance physical or cognitive performance by modifying the genes responsible for muscle growth, neurogenesis, and other desired traits and capabilities. However, the ethical implications of HGM are significant, and there is a wide range of viewpoints on the morality of altering the fundamental makeup of human biology. For the moment I’ll try to not go too deep into genetic enhancement and mostly refer to HGM as a treatment for genetic diseases and similar ailments.(but you know my opinion regarding human enhancement is full steam ahead! CHOO CHOO MOTHERFUCKERS!)
The most widespread use of HGM is currently in gene therapy, which is a medical technique that aims to treat or prevent genetic diseases by altering the genes of an individual. One of the most used methods of gene therapy is through the use of genetically modified viruses. These are harmless variants of simple viruses, used to carry the desired gene into the patient's cells, where it can integrate into the genome and replace the faulty gene. For example scientists have worked a Harmless Herpes virus to potentially treating skin, oesophageal and head and neck cancer. While this and other techniques have shown promising results in clinical trials, they are still in the early stages of development and more research is needed to ensure their safety and effectiveness in humans.
Germs But Not That Kind
One of the key restrictions that is embedded in most regulations regarding HGM, and that we won’t be covering in this study, is the modification of what is called the germline cells (yeah, at first I also thought Germs = something bad but not in this case Germline = Us). Germline refers to the intentional alteration of DNA in sperm, eggs, or human embryos, which can result in heritable changes passed down to future generations.(yeah at firs I also though germs = bad or dirty b This is in contrast to somatic cell genetic modification, which involves altering DNA in non-reproductive cells, such as those in the skin or muscles, that do not affect an individual's offspring. Germline modification is a highly controversial topic, as it raises significant ethical and safety concerns about the potential long-term effects on the human gene pool, due to potential inaccuracies and genetic rewrites that could be passed down for generations. Which is why most bioethical committees have an almost absolute ban on approving any therapies involving germline cells. On the other hand, somatic cell genetic modification is seen as a promising therapeutic approach.
Marketplace & Regulation
Now you might be thinking, is there a market for this? Well Obviously, there is a marketplace. It's human health we are talking about here. Billions of dollars worldwide flow into funding, basic and applied research, from startups and to big pharma / biotech companies. Also, as the technology surrounding HGM advances, the regulatory environment is struggling to keep up. On one hand this is due to the technology advancing faster than policy makers that can barely understand it, let alone, enact effective regulation, which is a sad situation in many countries. Currently, there are a patchwork of laws and regulations governing HGM that vary widely from country to country.
In the EU the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has clear guidelines that allows for specific treatments using gene therapy in humans, but a strict ban on any direct or potential threats of genetic modification in the Human Germline. In the US the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has restrictions regarding Germline modifications and a more flexible approach on its regulation for companies to develop and have treatments approved.Both agencies give a somewhat regulated playing field for it to then develop an entire marketplace, even though both agencies have their differences there is nothing inherently dangerous with the current regulatory landscape, though some critics argue that this should be loosened up more so companies can more easily enter and develop gene therapy-based solutions for ailments.
Who Would Oppose Something Like This?
I know it seems hard to think, but currently most arguments used against HGM are based on the perils, not the promises of said technology, and while having a healthy dose of skepticism is good for societies and individuals, being completely averse to any change can lead to entire nations failing to provide for health and wellbeing for its citizens. Critics of a regulated marketplace for HGM argue that the technology is Still in its early stages, and that the world’s most expert scientist in the are aren’t well versed on for example the long-term effects of this technology, and that allowing a marketplace for HGM could exacerbate existing inequalities, such as the rich being the only ones able to afford such treatments.
To back this, critics argue that this type of technology is different from previous complaints about technology accelerating inequalities because it changes people on a much more "basic" level. They claim these inequalities will eventually lead to a more divided society where those with means can afford genetic therapy and this could eventually lead beyond just therapies to treat ailments but into improving or enhancing physical and cognitive capabilities, leaving those without access even more behind in a competitive market.
Therefore, for the critics it is amoral to permit HGM, and that governments shouldn't allow technologies like this to be legal, because it enhances existing inequalities in the world. Without considering the upside of the people whose lives could be uplifted and helped by this technology.
We Need a New Paradigm
While concerns about economic and social inequality are valid, when it comes to the marketplace for HGM, it is essential that policymakers prioritize public health and individual freedoms above all else. The potential benefits of HGM are significant, and the technology could provide life- saving treatments for a wide range of ailments. However, it is an imperative that the development of this technology is done in a way that ensures it is used safely, ethically, and responsibly.
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Rather than focusing on the potential inequalities that could arise from a marketplace for HGM, policymakers should prioritize developing a regulatory framework that ensures the technology is used in the best interests of society as a whole. This includes developing robust safety standards, ensuring that the technology is accessible to all those who could benefit from it, and creating a regulatory framework that is transparent and accountable.
And this focus on giving citizens freedom to choose and improve their health has a clear effect on the health and wellbeing of people, because having more and more healthy citizens will always provide an increased wellbeing and welfare for the nation and the state.
Therefore the state ought to be allowing and even pushing forward technologies that allow humans to have better wellbeing and health because of the inherent benefits that society would reap if they embraced HGM as a powerful tool for reducing human suffering making its support an almost moral imperative to any state concerned with the wellbeing of its citizens.
Let’s Accelerate This!
Allowing a regulated marketplace for HGM to thrive would give individuals greater control over their own genetic makeup, resulting in improved health and wellbeing for those individuals. Although there are concerns about potential inequalities and accessibility to these treatments, it is important to note that these issues are not unique to HGM. Just as smartphones and other technological advancements, they started off as “toys for the wealthy” but became more and more accessible over time. Even so, healthcare providers, both private and those funded by the state will intervene and make the most pressing and urgently needed treatments available for its customers, which could be a solution of accessibility for these treatments in the beginning when they remain expensive.The benefits of HGM are significant and could bring about positive impacts for individuals and society as a whole, a well-regulated market structure could more efficiently deliver these treatments.
Therefore, policymakers should work to develop a framework that ensures safe and ethical use of this technology, while also ensuring that it is accessible to those who could benefit from it. Instead of listening to the opponents of HGM who would like to impose a moratorium on this marketplace, based on their perceptions, biases and superstitions. Sadly if this later on becomes a loud enough minority it may leave many people out of the possibility of reducing the suffering in their lives. It is illogical and could even be considered immoral for an elected leader to do so and leave people without the freedom to choose a treatment that would clearly improve their quality of life.
And I only focus on that side because as we have seen before, thanks to the flows of capital into this and the potential help of AI the field of gene therapies and HGM will explode thanks to scientists being able to support themselves with ever increasing intelligent non-human systems to support and accelerate scientific development.
So where do you stand?
In conclusion we can see that HGM is the future of human health, thanks to technological advancements people’s lives are going to be radically improved, slowly, but surely, reducing human suffering and improving their wellbeing as well as increasing the number of healthy humans on this planet enjoying life instead of a lifetime of suffering and pain caused by things that are completely outside their control like their genes.
Also, we understand the concerns against HGM and its marketplace. An unregulated development of these tools could be dangerous, and there is a possibility of technologies increasing some inequalities present in our society.
But given the choice of living in an unequal society with healthy people and an equally miserable society not being able to reap the benefits of this life changing treatment the choice for regulators and the general population should be obvious.
There should be a global marketplace for human genetic modification, though a regulated one trying to reduce harm and maximize the health benefits from those that can and must receive these treatments. Also, we must look forward to the advancements and benefits this will bring to the future of humanity where less and less people will be shackled by the burden of their biology and we as a species will be free from the destiny of our genes. Change is coming and it can be a glorious future if we just allow it to thrive.