Effects of Genome Editing on Human Reproduction Free Essay Example (2023)


Researchers have embarked on a mission to rewrite the human genome through a process known as genome editing. Genome editing alters the DNA of organisms thereby affecting their physical traits as well as disease risks. Genome editing makes use of gene editing tools that search for unwanted genes in humans and either deletes or replaces them with wanted ones. Genetic engineering has formed the basis of many discussions on the effectiveness and viability of the practice, as well as the ethical considerations involved.

Human reproduction is the field that is most affected by genome editing. Recent times have seen the development of designer babies that display enhanced traits. The traits enhanced for these babies include gender, appearance and personality, intelligence and disease traits. Designer babies have their genetic makeup altered before their birth, usually just after conception. The enhancement of qualities has led to a new crop of three-genetic parents, whereby genetic changes are made based on the characteristics of three individuals. Genome editing is made possible through the use of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) through a process known as the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

Several ethical issues face the application of PGD in altering human DNA. PGD poses dangers to changes made on the germ-line, which is the DNA available in reproductive cells that are passed on through generations. As such, the field of genetic engineering faces various ethical implications, chief among them being the safety of embryos. Changes made to the DNA may cause severe damages to the cells as a result of unsuccessful alteration. Such loss may lead to lifelong implications on the part of the embryo, thus negatively affecting their future lives. Furthermore, the death of embryos during genetic engineering is another primary ethical concern.

Historical Timeline

(Video) The Realities of Gene Editing with CRISPR I NOVA I PBS

The concept of designer babies dates back to as early as the 1970s. IVF was popularized in this era, with the first IVF conception being witnessed. Louise Brown became the first test-tube baby, thus proving a significant step in human reproduction practice.

Later on, scientists continued researching genetic alterations that would be done on the DNA. Various studies were put across to document the research. In the year 2000, the investigation was put to the test before its commissioning as an appropriate medical intervention to be used in human reproduction. Adam Nash became the first designer baby to be conceived and born. Adam’s conception was met with gene selection that was conducted through the pre-implantation process. The process witnessed successful gene alteration that saw Adam Nash being born with specific genes that resisted disease.

Furthermore, Adam’s conception was meant to serve as a cure for his ailing sister. His sister suffered from Fanconi’s anemia. Hence Adam’s genetic material was coined to resist the disease. Through the process, a total of fifteen embryos were created whereby the one lacking the Fanconi’s trait was used and implanted on the mother. After his birth, Adam donated blood to his sister, which in turn facilitated her treatment and survival.

Adam’s birth was made possible through the existence and development of biotechnology to facilitate the procedure. New technology dubbed Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR) was developed and was meant to target a specific area of a gene that required alteration, thereby altering the genetic material in the cells. Moreover, CRISPR relies on the engineered CRISPR- associated protein (Cas9) (Erickson, 2015). The CRISPR-Cas9 subjects the human DNA to either respond to or eliminate a genetic adaptation to achieve adaptive immunity. As a result, the DNA acquires a new genetic composition different from the original.


Various people display varying opinions on genetic modification in human reproduction. In the US, there are several people for the idea and similarly those against the idea. According to a survey conducted by Funk, Kennedy, & Sciupac (2016) 46% of Americans view the development of designer babies as an appropriate use of medical advances. This percentage of people believe that technological advancements have caused a significant change in the society; therefore designer babies are just part of the application of this advancement.

(Video) CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing Technology

However, 83% of Americans are of the opinion that designer babies serve as proof of taking medical advances too far (Funk, Kennedy & Sciupac, 2016). Most of the people making this opinion are those who believe that it is morally wrong to alter the genes of an embryo. Most people from a religious point of view, cite disrespect for God’s creation as the reason for the dissatisfaction with the particular medical advances.

“It is wrong to change the DNA of an embryo to produce smarter, healthier and more athletic children,” (Funk, Kennedy & Sciupac, 2016). Approximately 66% of Americans are of this opinion as genetic modification should only be reserved for therapeutic reasons such as preventing the spread of disease. On the other hand, 26% of Americans view this change as a positive thing.

Owing to the ethical issues raised concerning genetic modification of embryos, the application of PGD in testing for genes with inherited diseases through IVF cycles has declined to about 5%. Scientists have limited the research on viable embryos to allow for evidence that proves the success of the practice.

Furthermore, various science companies have taken up genetic modification and turned it into a commercial venture. As opposed to 2009 when the genome editing was priced at $50,000, current prices are set at $1500. “Science for safe and effective PGD is likely to exist sometime in the next 20-40 years,” claims Ball (2017). As a result, sex would no longer be required for procreation.


Genome editing attracts many interested parties. Shareholders involved in the practice include scientists, ethicists, parents, lawmakers, and science companies. Each of these stakeholders has a different perspective, interest, and relative powers on genome editing.

(Video) Roundtable: Is human gene editing ethical?

Scientists view genome editing as a breakthrough in genetic studies. However, the practice requires being safe and effective-aspects that scientist seeks to achieve. As a result, some scientists believe that the research should continue, but on non-viable human embryos instead of viable ones. As such, there would be no pregnancies resulting from the studies. The National Academies of Sciences & Medicine (2017) claims, “the current technology is unfit and therefore unpredictable. It would cause negative effects on future generations.”

On the other hand, ethicists raise concerns human germ-line editing. “The changes are passed down to future generations hence affecting future development,” ((NHGRI, 2017). Ethicists believe that genome editing should be stopped and prohibited since it affects future generations.

Parents are other stakeholders who believe in having children that possess the best health and traits. Parents wish to know and control the type of children they want, hence their acceptance towards genome editing.

Lawmakers regulate the application of this technology, which is banned in European countries. They also conduct public deliberation to collect the public’s views on the practice. In countries such as the US where the method is not banned, the federal government refrains from funding any research on the topic. “The federal government prohibits any funding of research conducted on human embryo, whether dead or alive,” (Erickson, 2015).

Science companies, on the other hand, believe in commercializing the technology, thus supporting gene editing. Furthermore, they fund research on genetic modification.


(Video) Heritable Gene Editing is “Wildly Unsafe”

The most significant debates and discussions raised on the matter concern ethical considerations. In matters safety, studies exist that seek to ensure the practice is conducted for therapeutic reasons only and is safe in its application (NHGRI, 2017). Informed consent is another issue raised whereby the victims (embryos) do not provide their consent, hence affecting future generations (NHGRI, 2017). However, some people argue that parents have autonomy over their children and therefore justified to make decisions on their behalf. Another argument is on equity of the service, which may be limited to the wealthy, and in turn cause disparities in the society and healthcare provision (NHGRI, 2017).


In conclusion, more information is required on the use of CRISPR and its regulations as well as relevant statistics on genome editing. Future research will look further into the ethical considerations in genome editing, by answering the question ‘is genome editing in human reproduction ethically viable?’ Moreover, it is essential to understand the guidelines on the application of genetic engineering and the development of designer babies.


Ball, P. (2017). Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/08/designer-babies-ethical-horror-waiting-to-happen

Erickson, B. (2015). Editing Of Human Embryo Genes Raises Ethics Questions. Retrieved from https://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i26/Editing-Human-Embryo-Genes-Raises.html

(Video) Gene Editing & CRISPR: How Far Should We Go?

Funk, C., Kennedy, B., & Sciupac, E. (2016). 2. U.S. public opinion on the future use of gene editing. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/07/26/u-s-public-opinion-on-the-future-use-of-gene-editing/

National Academies of Sciences, & Medicine. (2017). Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

NHGRI. (2017). what are the ethical concerns about genome editing? Retrieved from https://www.genome.gov/27569225/what-are-the-ethical-concerns-about-genome-editing/


What is genome editing in reproduction? ›

Genome editing could potentially be applied in the context of assisted reproduction to alter a DNA sequence(s) of an embryo, or of a sperm or egg cell prior to fertilisation. The aim would be to influence the inherited characteristics of the resulting person.

How does gene editing affect human? ›

Gene Therapy: Changing genomes to treat disease

Gene therapy , or somatic gene editing, changes the DNA in cells of an adult or child to treat disease, or even to try to enhance that person in some way. The changes made in these somatic (or body) cells would be permanent but would only affect the person treated.

What are 3 benefits of genome editing? ›

Potential benefits of human genome editing include faster and more accurate diagnosis, more targeted treatments and prevention of genetic disorders.

What is genome editing and give example? ›

Genome Editing in Research

Genome editing is widely used in studies in a variety of organisms. For example, CRISPR is used to make “knockout” models of disease in a wide range of animals, enabling researchers to study the underlying genetic causes.

Why is Human Genome editing important? ›

Genome editing is of great interest in the prevention and treatment of human diseases. Currently, genome editing is used in cells and animal models in research labs to understand diseases. Scientists are still working to determine whether this approach is safe and effective for use in people.

What are the ethical issues around human reproduction? ›

The main issues that raise ethical dilemmas following the development of assisted reproduction techniques are: the right to procreate or reproduce; the process of in vitro fertilization itself-is it morally acceptable to interfere in the reproduction process?; the moral status of the embryo; the involvement of a third ...

How will gene editing affect future generations? ›

Even if on-target gene editing is accurate, the off-target effects could influence the function of many genes, possibly posing serious health problems. In the germline, off-target effects might persist for generations and could lead to long-term changes in the genome.

How does gene editing affect society? ›

Genome editing is a powerful, scientific technology that can reshape medical treatments and people's lives, but it can also harmfully reduce human diversity and increase social inequality by editing out the kinds of people that medical science, and the society it has shaped, categorize as diseased or genetically ...

What are the potential negatives of genetically modifying humans? ›

Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering in Humans
  • Fear of spreading invasive species. Genetically modified (GM) animals and plants are well-known for their ability to adapt to different environments better than the regular ones. ...
  • Uncontrollable population growth. ...
  • Higher risk of increasing allergies.
Jun 29, 2022

What are 5 benefits of the Human Genome Project? ›

Molecular Medicine
  • Improved diagnosis of disease.
  • Earlier detection of genetic predispositions to disease.
  • Rational drug design.
  • Gene therapy and control systems for drugs.
  • Pharmacogenomics "custom drugs"
Mar 26, 2019

Which is the greatest benefit of the human genome project? ›

The HGP benefited biology and medicine by creating a sequence of the human genome; sequencing model organisms; developing high-throughput sequencing technologies; and examining the ethical and social issues implicit in such technologies.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of gene therapy to human body? ›

Gene therapy is a cutting edge medical treatment that has pros and cons. Gene therapy can be life-saving for some people with specific medical conditions, but it's expensive and can cause side effects. The development of gene therapy is highly regulated by the FDA and National Institute of Health.

What is the conclusion of genome editing? ›

3 Conclusions

The fact that genome editing can modify human germline determined ethical concerns both among the scientists and the public. As in any other medical intervention, genetic therapy must be governed by the core ethical principles of benevolence, nonmaleficence, respect for autonomy and justice.

What is an example of editing? ›

The Two Types of Editing

You're writing, you change a word in a sentence, write three sentences more, then back up a clause to change that semicolon to a dash; or you edit a sentence and a new idea suddenly spins out from a word change, so you write a new paragraph where until that moment nothing else was needed.

What is genome answer in one sentence? ›

A genome is an organism's complete set of genetic instructions. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build that organism and allow it to grow and develop.

Is it ethical to do genome editing on humans? ›

Genome editing of germ cells (embryos, sperm and egg cells) was initially very controversial and caused some to call for an outright ban on this application. 6 Despite this, there has been a broad consensus among expert bodies that genome editing in research is morally permissible (see table 1 for summary).

What are the factors that affect human reproduction? ›

Many lifestyle factors such as the age at which to start a family, nutrition, weight, exercise, psychological stress, environmental and occupational exposures, and others can have substantial effects on fertility; lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking, illicit drug use, and alcohol and caffeine consumption can ...

What are 3 ethical issues with the human Genome Project? ›

Presymptomatic testing, carrier screening, workplace genetic screening, and testing by insurance companies pose significant ethical problems. Second, the burgeoning ability to manipulate human genotypes and phenotypes raises a number of important ethical questions.

What is the future of human reproduction? ›

The development of fetuses wholly outside the human body. New methods of creating eggs and sperm that will allow the creation of children with two genetic parents of the same sex or multiple genetic parents. Genome editing, enabling a greater degree of control over the genetic makeup of future people.

How has gene editing changed the world? ›

Since it was developed in 2012, this gene-editing tool has revolutionized biology research, making it easier to study disease and faster to discover drugs. The technology is also significantly impacting the development of crops, foods, and industrial fermentation processes.

How does gene editing affect the environment? ›

Gene editing can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove excess carbon from the atmosphere, making it an essential tool in efforts to address climate change.

What is a disadvantage of gene editing? ›

A lab experiment aimed at fixing defective DNA in human embryos shows what can go wrong with this type of gene editing and why leading scientists say it's too unsafe to try. In more than half of the cases, the editing caused unintended changes, such as loss of an entire chromosome or big chunks of it.

Why are people against gene editing? ›

Critics of heritable genetic interventions argue that germline manipulation would disrupt this natural heritage and therefore would threaten human rights and human equality (Annas, 2005). Heritable human genome editing creates changes that can be heritable to future generations.

What are 4 reasons to not allow genetic modification in humans? ›

Reasons to ban germline gene editing include the profound risks to future children, thin medical justifications, reinforcing existing inequalities and creating new forms of discrimination, eroding public trust in responsible science, and undermining global agreements.

What are 3 disadvantages to using genetically modified organisms? ›

The main concerns around GMOs involve allergies, cancer, and environmental issues — all of which may affect the consumer. While current research suggests few risks, more long-term research is needed.

What are the risks or dangers that Human Genome Project has for humans? ›

If someone were to find out they have a good chance of developing a rare disease it would most likely drastically change their thinking on life. For reproduction, there could be compatibility problems of two individuals to have normal children. This would cause stress in a large number of people's lives.

What are the two main outcomes of the Human Genome Project? ›

The project showed that humans have 99.9% identical genomes, and it set the stage for developing a catalog of human genes and beginning to understand the complex choreography involved in gene expression.

What are the two important goals of Human Genome Project? ›

Goals of the human genome project. Goals of the human genome project include: Optimization of the data analysis. Sequencing the entire genome.

What is the main goal of human genome? ›

The Human Genome Project is an ambitious research effort aimed at deciphering the chemical makeup of the entire human genetic code (i.e., the genome). The primary work of the project is to develop three research tools that will allow scientists to identify genes involved in both rare and common diseases.

How many genomes do humans have? ›

The diploid human genome is thus composed of 46 DNA molecules of 24 distinct types. Because human chromosomes exist in pairs that are almost identical, only 3 billion nucleotide pairs (the haploid genome) need to be sequenced to gain complete information concerning a representative human genome.

How many genes are in the human genome? ›

An international research effort called the Human Genome Project, which worked to determine the sequence of the human genome and identify the genes that it contains, estimated that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes.

What is the biggest problem in gene therapy? ›

The earliest studies showed that gene therapy could have very serious health risks, such as toxicity, inflammation, and cancer. Since then, researchers have studied the mechanisms and developed improved techniques that are less likely to cause dangerous immune reactions or cancer.

What are the arguments in favor of genetic selection of humans? ›

The main arguments in its favor are that it offers the potential to cure some diseases or disorders in those who have the problem and to prevent diseases in those whose genes predisposed them to those problems.

What is the main purpose of editing? ›

Editing is a process that involves revising the content, organization, grammar, and presentation of a piece of writing. The purpose of editing is to ensure that your ideas are presented to your reader as clearly as possible. Proofreading focuses on checking for accuracy in smaller details of your work.

What are the benefits of editing? ›

5 vital benefits of editing
  • Get your thinking straight. Good writing means presenting your material in a logical order and sticking to your theme. ...
  • Hit the right tone. How you say something is just as important as what you say. ...
  • Eradicate the dead wood. ...
  • Eliminate embarrassing errors. ...
  • Lubricate your sentences.

What are the three main types of editing? ›

The tasks that an editor performs can be grouped broadly into three types: substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading.

What is an example sentence for genome? ›

The human genome is not a carefully written manual. We are teaching you about why and how your genome makes you you. Studying their genomes may help provide an answer. In a few decades it could cost just a few dollars per genome.

What is a genome summary? ›

(JEE-nome) The complete set of DNA (genetic material) in an organism. In people, almost every cell in the body contains a complete copy of the genome. The genome contains all of the information needed for a person to develop and grow.

What is genome in your own words? ›

A genome is all of the genetic material in an organism. It is made of DNA (or RNA in some viruses) and includes genes and other elements that control the activity of those genes.

What is gene editing in plant breeding? ›

Gene editing, particularly by clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein (Cas) and its variants, has become a powerful technology in plant research and may become a game-changer in plant breeding. Traits are conferred by coding and non-coding genes.

What is genome editing in animals? ›

What is gene editing? Gene editing involves deleting or changing coding in embryos. One example of current technology is CRISPR, a biological system for altering DNA discovered in 2012. CRISPR scans the genome looking for the location of a certain gene and then uses "molecular scissors" to snip through the DNA.

Is gene editing done on embryos? ›

The genome editing system called CRISPR/Cas9 has revolutionized molecular biology in recent years, and its discoverers were honored with this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry. The system allows scientists to make precise changes in the genomes of cultured cells, living tissues, and animal embryos.

How is genome editing done in plants? ›

CRISPR/Cas DNA (represented by red double helix) is delivered into plant cells using Agrobacterium tumefaciens or particle bombardment. The transgenic plants are isolated, and then genome edited plants are selected through target site genotyping.

What are the two types of genome editing? ›

There are two different categories of gene therapies: germline therapy and somatic therapy. Germline therapies change DNA in reproductive cells (like sperm and eggs). Changes to the DNA of reproductive cells are passed down from generation to generation.

What is human genome editing? ›

Genome editing is a method for making specific changes to the DNA of a cell or organism. It can be used to add, remove or alter DNA in the genome. Human genome editing technologies can be used on somatic cells (non-heritable), germline cells (not for reproduction) and germline cells (for reproduction).

How does gene editing work in simple terms? ›

A nuclease enzyme is engineered to cut at a specific location in the DNA. After the DNA has been cut, a modified piece of DNA similar in sequence to the site of the cut is introduced. The cell uses the modified piece of DNA as the template to repair the break, filling the break with a copy of the new DNA.

What are three examples of gene edited animals? ›

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have created gene-edited pigs, goats and cattle to produce sperm with traits such as disease resistance and higher meat quality in what they say is a step towards genetically enhancing livestock to improve food production.

What is the success rate of genome editing? ›

Incredible new data presented recently at the European Hematology Association Congress has revealed an experimental CRISPR gene editing therapy is both safe and effective up to three years after treatment.

Is genome editing harmful? ›

The earliest studies showed that gene therapy could have very serious health risks, such as toxicity, inflammation, and cancer. Since then, researchers have studied the mechanisms and developed improved techniques that are less likely to cause dangerous immune reactions or cancer.

Can gene editing cure diseases? ›

Gene therapy replaces a faulty gene or adds a new gene in an attempt to cure disease or improve your body's ability to fight disease. Gene therapy holds promise for treating a wide range of diseases, such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, diabetes, hemophilia and AIDS.

What is the argument against genome editing? ›

Opponents of GGE argue that the danger of unpredictable effects on future generations, technical difficulties compromising patient safety, as well as other serious ethical concerns outweigh potential benefits of germline gene editing [9].

How does gene editing help the environment? ›

Gene editing is an advancement in plant and animal breeding that can support sustainability by helping farmers conserve water, reduce pesticide use, enhance soil health, improve air quality, safeguard animal well-being, and protect wildlife.

What are the advantages of gene editing in plants? ›

As gene editing can make farming more efficient by raising yields and guarding crops against environmental pressures and disease, it could reduce production costs, which could have a knock-on effect for the cost of food for consumers.

What does gene editing do to food? ›

CRISPR enables desirable crop traits by introducing DNA from nature-generated genetic variations within the crop itself, and not from another reproductively incompatible organism. This eliminates the fear that foreign DNA may be present in the resultant plant and related finished goods.


1. GENE EDITING EXPLAINED! - A comprehensive guide to the principles, methods and technologies!
(Genomics Gurus)
2. Use Gene Editing to Treat Patients, Not Design Babies | Marcy Darnovsky | TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool
(TEDx Talks)
3. Gene editing: should you be worried?
(The Economist)
4. CRISPR in Context: The New World of Human Genetic Engineering
(World Science Festival)
5. Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR
(Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell)
6. Ethics of Human Gene Editing
(Distinctive Voices)
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