Genetic Perfection

If you haven't seen GATTACA, I'll just summarize a few points here that are crucial to my 'story'.

In GATTACA, ***** and eggs are screened before conception to give children the best genetics possible. Initially, they eliminate the bad genes, and then can even put in good ones at a price.

Many people in the movie are said to be "genetically perfect". I don't believe it is possible to be genetically perfect, because there are too many factors to consider. It doesn't even seem reasonable to me that you could just eliminate flaws. Sure, you could take out some horrible hereditary diseases and help the kids, but when you go past the big and obvious changes, it gets into some gray area that none of us are really qualified to predict the outcome of. Changes that seem simple to our simple minds, when implemented in the complex world we call reality can have very different consequences due to factors we may have not even thought of. Some simple examples:

1. Make your child stronger? How much? Too much and he'll break his bones, tear his ligaments, and damage his body. Muscle imbalances will cause cramps and disfigurations. And will the body be designed even to handle a small change? Is the geneticist qualified to design that genetically? Or maybe we should leave that up to mother nature?

2. Make your child smarter? Even after you determine what genes affect intelligence, it's still difficult to determine how they will affect it. You make her brain draw connections more easily and she gets a photographic memory and can't sort it all out. You increase her mathematical abilities and she loses focus on emotions. You increase her emotional sense and she loses focus on mathematics. And still more horrifying effects I couldn't begin to predict.

3. Make your child tougher? To make the body stronger, you have to alter the chemistry; either increase the amount of structural elements or increase its ability to regenerate. Problem is, which do you choose? Tougher bodies are more difficult to repair and regenerate. If you give his bones more calcium, he could get calcium deposits (there's a named disease characterized by this occurrence). If you increase the amount of macrophages in his blood stream to fight off infections, you increase his energy intake while simultaneously choking out the space needed for red blood cells to transport the oxygen around the body, or also the room in the blood stream for the raw nutrients and glucose (energy) that he needs more of. Likewise if you give him more red blood cells, there is less room for macrophages. The human body is jampacked full of these balances.

4. Make your child grow faster? Many animals have bodies about as complex as ours, yet they can develop into adults much faster than we do. So we know it's quite possible to make our children grow up faster. But that won't increase the rate of mental development. It will, however, affect when certain hormonal changes take place in the child's life. That not only will have a strong impact on her emotional development, it can throw her physical development off course. Parts of her body may be stimulated to change sooner than they are ready for. The geneticist would have to be able to adjust many factors beyond growth alone to make the child grow faster just physically. The mental and emotional implications are simply a nightmare. On the other hand, if you make her grow more slowly, she could end up feeling left out, feel like she's missing part of her life, and feel like others are superior to her.

5. Reduce your child's propensity toward obesity? Our body fat comes in two types: structural and storage fat. Structural fat has fibers in it to make it stronger and bouncier so that it keeps its shape. This fat helps form our bodies into curvy shapes, fills in gaps where organs and skin doesn't fit together as well, and pads parts of our bodies that receive physical stress a lot, such as our buttocks which we sit on all the time. Storage fat is simpler and used entirely for storing extra energy or chemicals that our body has difficulty getting rid of. Lets just assume the geneticists in question are only trying to eliminate storage fat. The body will automatically store more fat when it feels that this extra energy is useful. Now sometimes obesity is actually a disease, in which the body stores more fat than it should for no good reason. But usually it's based more on environmental factors. So if they take out much the child's body's desire to generate extra fat, it can cause him to experience weakness, have low stamina, and other health problems associated with the lack of energy. Also, if his body is producing fat for the purpose of storing bad chemicals he eats, these chemicals will flow freely through his bloodstream until his body can eliminate them, causing extra damage to his body. And even if you try to lower his cravings for the foods that have those chemicals, what do you change, exactly? If you lower his craving for raw energy, he could end up feeling hungry and not wanting to eat, or not feeling hungry when he should. That can lead to malnutrition. If you make him crave less fats and sugars, and more starches, you just make him eat more bread and less meat, making him confused about his diet because he craves more vitamin c and protein but doesn't want to eat the foods that have it. And good luck on trying to make him crave complex carbohydrates. I don't think our bodies are very good at making that distinction.

6. Reduce violent tendencies? Make your child inherently "good"? Whether or not you choose to agree with me on this point, the fact of the matter is that "good" and "bad" are illusions. They don't exist. Typically, what is considered to be "good" is what helps the society as a whole, while what is "bad" is what hurts the society as a whole. People who make a habit of helping themselves without thought of others are often thought of as "evil" because their insensitive actions hurt other people. They don't usually have the intention of hurting others, they simply don't pay attention. And there are people who intentionally hurt others - most people, in fact, do this at some point in their lives at least once - these actions are also popularly thought of as "evil". Usually they are committed as an act of defense, be it to fend off a direct attack or to put forth an example of why the attacker should be taken seriously. People prey on others because they either don't stop to see how it affects the society as a whole (might not even care if the society hasn't made a record of helping them in the past), or because they perceive a threat from those people and/or believe those people deserve it. So basically, to make your child "good" is really only to make your child follow your idealized version of "good", and not what mother nature intended. You might be able to make positive changes in your child, but more likely is that you will throw her morals out of whack. You might make her vulnerable to attacks by people who are more selfish, she might end up getting taken advantage of by people who feel like she is giving them the option (such as she may act like something is okay and someone may misinterpret her actions), and who knows what else?

Point is, genetics are complex. If you choose to mess with em, be prepared to fail many times before you get it right.

Thoughts?

thereaverofdarkness thereaverofdarkness
26-30, M
1 Response Feb 11, 2010

The movie is NOT about perfect people. It is about an imperfect person following his dream.