Gene editing “CRISPR”  is the process of editing a cell’s DNA to create enhanced offspring. On one hand this technology can be used to ensure the wellbeing of children treated with this technology. On the other hand, this can be used to create ‘designer’ babies with certain attributes/traits desired in certain cultures. Should this technology be available to all or should it be banned based on it being unnatural and the unknown future impact?
The Anti Argument For Reproductive Gene Editing
Despite the great potential of this technology there are many issues surrounding it from a utilitarian perspective. Producing genetically altered humans is easier now than it ever was before, giving rise to potential “designer” babies where just about any feature of a child could be decided by the parents. This could give rise to unfair advantages for some people in terms of their life prospects, and producing a lot of anger and disenfranchisement from “normal” people, particularly if this technology was restricted behind a high paywall.
Clearly this could lead to a very dystopian future with increasing class divides or even discrimination based on your genetics. Imagine trying to take out health insurance but having to pay extra high rates due to having a genetic tendency for heart attacks or other medical conditions. This doesn’t mean the benefits of using this technology to reduce heart disease should be ignored, but it should be as widely accessible as possible and people should not be valued on their genetic makeup. There are still moral questions if everyone had equal access to this technology however. Every parent wants the best for their child, so would likely pick the better traits available. This could lead to another dystopian future where humanity tends towards a single genetic makeup, removing most variation between individuals.
Going against nature
The application of editing genes goes against nature. By doing gene editing, you are basically playing god. For example, changing a person’s height, or in extreme cases a person’s skin colour or gender would be unthinkable. Racial identity which differentiate us can be lost. Heredity or ancestry quality such as the DNA of the child will be different from the parents.
CRISPR is not limited to humans however, it can be applied to any living cell. Although there are huge potential benefits from genetic modification, what if gene editing goes wrong? What if a modified organism does something unexpected and causes irreversible damage? Who knows how badly we could damage ecosystems, particularly those which we rely on for food. No matter how much we try to predict the result of a genetic modification, we may not fully understand its effects until it’s too late. It’s not hard to think of the consequences if say a modified lethal bacterium is released into the world.
The worrying development of CRISPR compared to other techniques however, is how easy it is to implement. There are websites online where anyone can buy genetic material used to modify genomes . There are even “Biohacker” clubs springing up around the world!  No matter how well intentioned it may be, the effects of genetic engineering on the environment could be catastrophic or even apocalyptic.
In conclusion, from a Utilitarian perspective, CRISPR should be used in humans to remove genetic diseases but other non-essential modifications should be limited. It should be as accessible as possible but should be very carefully regulated to prevent potential environmental problems.
The Pro Argument for Reproductive Gene Editing
Gene editing is a relatively new technology with the potential to improve millions of lives by removing abnormalities from the genetic code such as cystic fibrosis . Some people argue that gene editing is playing god but you can argue that we as humans already do so by using technologies such as IVF  and editing of somatic, non-reproductive cells . Gene editing could lead mankind to a disease-free future where humans are born with no defects and live long, prosperous lives.
An argument the opposition procures against gene editing is the prospect of people taking advantage of this technology to produce humans with desired physical and intellectual traits, which may exacerbate inequality. However, research is not normally, if taken with Kantian  understanding bound by whether the results may or may not lead to inequality. This understanding also ignores the opinion of religious thought, another main opposition to the editing of the human germline. Additionally, from an economic viewpoint, in a utilitarian sense it could save money by removing the need to treat people with these hereditary conditions .
For the argument that is based on risk the response is that there is more of an uncertainty, not enough is understood and research needs to go forward. Additionally, the consent of the unborn argument can be rebutted with the reasoning that all decisions future parents make have a non-consensual impact. Furthermore, the idea that it will be better if this research is prevented will likely just lead to it being pushed underground instead of properly regulated.
This could lead to a future where humans do not have to live with debilitating disease and ignoring the suffering of others by not allowing every option to be explored would go against Kantian thinking. Negative arguments seem to be based on more emotive prospects like the preciousness of DNA, which in reality is just atoms that are together to form a complex chemical. An emotive rebuttal for this would be to highlight the effect of prevention of diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It is the most common and severe  form and has no effective treatments. Life begins normally but as time passes sufferers begin to lose functions and can no longer walk, this gradual weakening of muscles then leads to a sad and early death. If many of the parents of children with these diseases could have been asked beforehand if they would use it what would their likely answer be?
In conclusion, this technology is vulnerable to being misused however based on the Kantian ethical framework we should allow research to go forward because it has the potential to save lives and that is the morally correct thing to do. Every pathway should be taken to eliminate human suffering.
Group 48: Myles Carey, Jake Hooley, Mohd Aiman, Brien Allison