Human engineering: Picking winners and losers?

MACON, Ga. -- On Tuesday the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine said they support the modification of Human DNA but only for serious reasons.

Georgia College professor Mike Gleason said if that kind of technology is abused it could be the start of a slippery slope.

It's a science that could revolutionize human existence as we know it.

"In the last few years it's become possible to very quickly change the sequence of DNA, even to move pieces of DNA around with great accuracy," said Gleason, a biology professor.

Gleason said if used correctly, diseases passed down from generation to generation could become a think of the past.

"Like say you're born with cystic fibrosis," Gleason said. "If we could fix that wouldn't that be great? I think the other question becomes then, would we want to be able to make it so the child, and their children, and grandchildren and so on could get that information? So there's the cells that are body that are us and there's the cells in our body that could become next generation and those next generation cells are called germline."

Gleason said the germline gene therapy controversy started in the 1970s. While it could be used to help prevent diseases it could also lead yo the creation of what scientists describe as "designer babies."

That means technology may make it possible to pick a baby's hair color, eye color, even athletic ability or intelligence levels before they're even born.

"What you're talking about is picking winners and losers," Gleason said.

Where does Middle Georgia stand on the human engineering controversy?

"It's inevitable that science will progress along those lines," said analyst Joe Nabhan.

"I'm open to the idea in principle but I don't think it's something that our society is ready for," said Macon resident Joshua Abshire.

According to a release by the National Academy of Sciences if genome editing research is permitted it must meet a set of criteria including promoting well-being, responsible science and transparency.

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