The Controversy Of Eugenics And Genetic Engineering

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Throughout history, mankind has sought to understand itself. We question why we exist and what our role in the universe is, even though we may never receive an answer. One of these problems that humanity has yet to fully understand is evolution, which is the process of a species undergoing changes that suit their environment through multiple generations. However, in the last 150 years, humanity has made great strides in the science of genetics. In that time, there have been some subjects that have been highly controversial: eugenics and genetic engineering. The history of these topics is colored with ethical and moral quandaries that have been topics for fierce debates since the early 1900s, and they continue to this day. Eugenics was…show more content…
Many of these countries, even the United States, adopted eugenic practices. One such practice was sterilizing those deemed “mentally unfit” to reproduce, attempting to eliminate mental disabilities as a result. However, these practices fell out of favor with the public due to the rise of Nazism and the atrocities of the Holocaust, where eugenics was used to a radical extreme. It wouldn’t be long, however, for genetics to return to the forefront of scientific research, thanks to the discovery of DNA’s helical structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 (Pray). This discovery would later lead Watson to assume the first director position for the Human Genome Project, an ambitious international research project started in 1990 that sought to map out the entire human genome, until his departure in 1992 (“A Brief History”). This thirteen-year project ended in the successful mapping of the underestimated 20,500 genes that make up a human’s genome and “has given the world a resource of detailed information about the structure, organization and function of the complete set of human genes” (“An Overview”). In modern times, eugenics has evolved into genetic engineering, and it is still as controversial a topic as it was in the 1940s. But why is that so? Surely if the option to change a negative trait about someone existed, such as eliminating a genetic disease like Huntington’s Disease, why would someone want to oppose that? My

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