Genetic Modification of Human Embryos : Should This Practice Be Allowed?

Yassmine Raoui, Biology Major, Class of 2022

Han Yang, Philosophy Major and Economics Minor, Class of 2021

Neal Canastra, Biology Major, Class of 2021

The development of human genetic modification stands as one of the most impactful discoveries of the 21st century. For the first time in our existence, humans will have the ability to fully understand genetic code that has baffled scientists since its discovery. With such technology, we might be able to cure genetic diseases, solve the words environmental crisis, and end world hunger. Nevertheless, some concerns exist in terms of where to draw the line or who has the right to decide what types of modification is for the betterment of human health. We collaborated with Professor Westfall of the international relations department, Professor Mathis of the philosophy department, Professor Flynn of the political science department, and Professor Kotyk of the chemistry department during our time within the Mayfellows Colloquium addressing the question of “Who are we?” and further into the 2020 spring semester.

Therefore, in this project, our team consisting of Yassmine Raoui a biology major and class of 2022, Han Yang a philosophy major with a minor in economics in the class of 2021, and Neal Canastra a biology major in the class of 2021, endeavored to scrutinously research our project titled “Genetic Modification: Should We Be Better?” with regards to the practice of genetic enhancement of human embryos and the associated concerns and consequences. As our time during the MayFellows Colloquium came to an end, our group organized and presented our findings to the other Mayfellows colloquium participants, professors, and guests.

At the same time, throughout the 2020 spring semester at Wheaton, to help raise public awareness of this issue our team developed an awareness campaign to educate the public about the pros and cons of genetic modification. We drafted two sets of flyers depicting insightful and provocative questions regarding genetic modification that were placed around the Wheaton campus, as well as planned a panel discussion on the genetic modification of human embryos with experts in the fields of biology, philosophy, law, and business all invited to participate as speakers.

This research experience with the MayFellows Colloquium was a very unique and rewarding experience that allowed us to delve into new and interesting topics as well as meet new friends and colleagues.