Genetic Engineering

João Pedro de Magalhães

As a transhumanist, I defend my right to change and upgrade my body as I please. I also defend that if I wish to have children with upgraded brains or certain beneficial features, I should be allowed to, assuming the method is proven safe of course — otherwise I wouldn’t be interested in it anyway. The issue of whether embryos are humans beings is beyond the focus of this essay. Nonetheless, I do not think that an embryo without a circulatory system, without a nervous system, without any evidence of a mind or of consciousness, can be considered a person.

Since Mendel’s experiments on heredity and the identification of the DNA as the genetic material, we started to know how and why we are like we are we, started to understand more about how our bodies work. The DNA contains genes, passed to us in roughly equal proportions from our parents, that are like the instructions of a computer program running within us, inside our every cell. The whole program, the complete DNA, makes up the genome, which contains not only all genes but even large empty areas that are basically junk. Genes by and large encode proteins, which are the building blocks of our bodies. Differences in genes determine, for instance, eye color and susceptibility to certain diseases. To a large degree we are what our genes code us to be.

The DNA is a molecular chain physically located in chromosomes, structures present in the nucleus of cells. Genes are encoded by the DNA and specify how and when to build proteins which then act as molecular machines. These molecular machines interact in complex networks to perform most vital functions in cells. The communities of cells, through complex interactions, then give rise to animals, including human beings.

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