Is Gene Editing on Embryos Going Against Nature or Helping to Prevent Miscarriages?

by zoepaes on September 12, 2016 - 9:37pm

To begin with, the article I chose is named “UK scientists ready to genetically modify human embryos” written by Ian Sample in The Guardian online newspaper. Furthermore, this article explains that some scientists in the UK want to get approval to genetically modify human embryos to enhance the research on miscarriages and to understand it better which will maybe help find the true causes behind it. This could lead to genetically editing embryos in the future to reduce miscarriages. They mostly want to improve fertility treatments by using gene editing and during the research process the used embryos would be donated by couples who have extra after IVF treatment and it would be destroyed after 7 days.


This ethical issue leads to contradiction between the values of technological advancement and research versus human nature. In other words, if it is seen as something positive, it can really help humans acquire knowledge and prevent miscarriages. This advantages’ the moral claim to always act for the greater good because doing research on certain embryos can help a lot of people. In other words, the ethical point of view of this is that it can help a lot of people to have children effectively without worrying too much about having a miscarriage.


However, it can be seen as unethical to start a life, to modify it and then to simply destroy it. By many, it can be viewed very badly and considered like they are killing lives. Also, it is totally going against human nature because they would be modifying the gene which is the basis of life itself and what makes a human, human. Also, if ever there’s a mistake in the modification, it would be passed on from generation to generation which can be very dangerous. This point of view advantages’ the moral claim that human life is fundamentally valuable and that people should not be used as a means to an end. More specifically, the embryo is too valuable to be used and modified and that it shouldn’t be used to accomplish something else.


To conclude, personally, I don’t really have a clear position about genetically modifying human embryos for research, but I think that it’s mostly unethical because it is very unnatural and I think this could lead to modifying human embryos in the future as a way to keep the baby alive when it should be a miscarriage and I think that’s going a bit too far because it could basically be considered as non human since it was modified and there could be so many complications that could arise from this. I think it needs to stop somewhere otherwise sometime in the future the genes will be completely be modified to try to make the perfect humans. More precisely, there’s a reason everything is as it is and sometimes we should just let it be without trying to always change everything because we never know the consequences that could come from that. Will it be too late once we realize we’re going too far?



Works Cited


Sample, Ian. “UK scientists ready to genetically modify human embryos.” The Guardian, 13 January 2016, Accessed 11 September 2016.



To see how far biological science has gone is very interesting but can also be very frightening. In your conclusion, you mention “the genes will be completely … modified to try to make the perfect humans” where I believe you are relating the topic to genetic modification for eugenic purposes. Given this context, genetic modification is something that many find unethical and terrifying because, as you said, “we never know the consequences”. The long term outcomes cannot be known to us because of the incredibly complex and not entirely understood process of human reproduction. To give you my answer to your parting question, I believe that by the time we realize the detrimental effects of genetic modification for eugenic purposes, the situation would be irreparable because by then, generations upon generations of individuals would already be “products” of this genetic modification. I would assume that if those “products” and their relations were thoroughly documented, and those affected could thus be traced, then maybe a disastrous genetic situation could be remedied but it would most likely take years and during that time many lives would be harmed or even lost.

Seeing as how the team of scientists that you are talking about would destroy the embryos after 7 days, I was curious as to how IVF treatments usually dispose of extra embryos. I found out that the remaining embryos are frozen and the couples involved are usually given four choices: donating to other infertile couples, donating to medical research, destroying them by thawing them (often accompanied by some sort of ceremony showing their reverence) and discarding them as bio-waste, or postponing the decision which often keeps them frozen indefinitely. Also noteworthy, the couples are billed by the fertility clinics to keep embryos frozen for extended periods of time. I also found that the decision most often made, since the IVF treatments introduction in the late ‘70s, has been to discard them, resulting in millions of embryos being destroyed over the past decades. Using embryos to further scientific research seems to me more appropriate than simply discarding them.

I agree with you that research such as this one feels like humans are meddling into affairs that we should not be part of. However, I disagree that this research into improving fertility treatments is the same as eugenic genetic modification. Although it is using others as means to an end, and violating the sanctity of life, I believe that the genetic editing of flawed embryos for research into advancing fertility treatments is justifiable because the embryos that are being used in the research were going to be disposed of regardless. This research thus gives these embryos reason to exist and also acts toward the greater good.

After what I have said, do you still think that this particular research is equally unethical to genetic modification for eugenic purposes?

Just something to note, after I read the article by Ian Sample on The Guardian that you wrote about, I found an article by Haroon Siddique on the same journal that is about the British scientists request being approved. Here is the link:

Interesting topic! i do believe that it Modifying Embryos is going way too far! In order to find the solution to all Ethical issues we must look into the word of God. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This being said God knows you before you were born and has every intention to bless and bring you into this world into your calling. But the Devil comes to kill steal and destroy but Jesus came that you may have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10) Sin is the reason of miscarriages. Without the Holy spirit within you are out of God's Protection and the enemy will steal the seeds that you have sown. Do you think if this was token into consideration this issue would be eradicated? God bless :)