• DNA Resequencing: Giving you the body (and mind) you’ve always wanted!


    In our article of the 12th February, rather than present a direct argument to the contrary, we reported the claims of some doom-mongers and sought with our commentary at the end of the article to convince those who are gullible enough to become bothered by the doom-mongers prattling on about the end of the world, to offer a vision of our belief in the future.

    Visions of the future in science fiction tend to be somewhat circumscribed, either by the author’s lack of imagination or a commercially based tendency to project the mores and cultural norms of the present into the future (eg; mini-skirted female crew members in the original “Star Trek” series). Such constraints to the imagination are not generally due to any lack ability on the author’s part, but more likely imposed by the commercial managers in the TV stations that are the author’s customer.

    One recurring theme within science fiction is of course “genetic engineering” with tales of secret organisations, mad scientists &C. breeding a race of “super-humans.” Of course, technically, this “technology” if you want to call it that, has in a manner of speaking been around since the earliest days. Human beings have been selectively breeding animals for millennia. One of the most common of these is the domesticated dog. It sounds incredible doesn’t it – but true – that a dog such as a basset hound has as its ancestor; the wolf. There is of course a clear theological comment here: the Almighty created the wolf – a beautiful creature. Man created the basset hound. Enough said.

    Application of this practice to humans has been little tried for obvious reasons. The late and much unlamented Adolf Hitler of course was an enthusiast for this. He however was not alone. Eugenics – the improvement of the human race – was a popular and respectable idea in the early part of the twentieth century.

    The practise of selective breeding of course has always had a major limitation: one could call it the Capability Brown effect. The famous eighteenth century landscape gardener’s clients commissioned landscape projects that would generally not come to complete fruition within the lifetime of the commissioner. Brown’s aristocratic clients were commissioning the work for future generations. With selective breeding the benefits are derived by the children, not the commissioning parents.

    DNA Resequencing however promises to change that. In the future, the technology will exist that will enable a person to undergo treatment to alter their genetic structure and inter alia their body and/or mind. This will of course be put forward as a medical treatment to cure serious illnesses such as motor neurone disease that affects such as Stephen Hawking. It could be offered as a cure for such conditions as Down’s Syndrome – to restructure the body and the brain; to correct the various physiological problems Downs Syndrome sufferers can experience as well as the facial differences and of course to “correct” the intellectual deficiencies in their brains.

    Of course, there are many who will be outraged at the suggestion that this technology could be used, but it is possible that many parents – in cultures other than the western culture – may accept such medical intervention to transform their Downs Syndrome baby into a normal bright healthy child. But then ask this question of yourself: Do you or a loved one suffer from any physical aliments? Would you like a complete eradication of these aliments for yourself or your loved one?

    Of course, such technology will be able to be used beyond these constraints, hence the comical image at the article’s head. Consider a hypothetical young lady: she is a tall slim woman who is not happy with her figure. This is because she desires to have larger breasts. There are of course many such young women and many have undergone a procedure to have silicone breast implants fitted. In the future it will be possible for such young women to have their DNA resequenced to enable their breasts to grown to the shape and size they desire – within obvious biological constraints. But it is obvious that given the availability of this technology the demand will go well beyond young ladies wanting breast enhancements. There will be people who will desire all sorts of “modifications.” If it is possible to boost the IQ of a “Downs Symdrome” sufferer to lets us say 100, why not increase it to 150 or 160? There again, if a person has an average level IQ of 100 to 125, why not have DNA resequencing to increase it similarly?

    But of course this technology offers the potential of more. Much more. Consider the cosmetics market and industry. Consider the popularity of numerous creams and lotions that women apply in an attempt to “hold back the years.” Tabloid newspapers and such as “Hello” magazine may from time to time report on a female “celebrity” having a “face lift.” Will DNA resequencing offer the prospect of halting or even reversing the aging process? If so, is it not naive to assume that there would be no demand for such?

    Were one to acquire Doctor Who’s Tardis and were one to travel into the future – not forgetting to stop off to ascertain several of the Euromillions lottery results on the way – would one arrive in a world full of statuesque Aphrodite and Adonis lookalikes appearing to be in their twenties but who inform you that they are in their nineties?

    Then of course there will be those suffering from either the Michael Jackson syndrome or the Greg Dyke syndrome. The late Mr Jackson, readers will recall, underwent several cosmetic processes to lighten his skin colour. With DNA resequenceing it will be perfectly possible for a person of African ethnicity to transform themselves into a fair skinned blue eyed blond haired Nordic person, thus causing people to assume the person comes from Sweden and not Sierra Leone. The corollary to this is of course the Greg Dyke syndrome – he of the “hideously white” claim. Such as Mr Dyke will be able to undergo DNA resequencing enabling him to appear to come from Malawi and not Middlesex.

    The future therefore offers the prospect of human beings being able to correct and alter their bodies to remove all physical and mental imperfections. But then, do not our imperfections make us the humans we are? What will our descendants become?

    Of course fashions change and having a brown skin or a buff skin may not in the future be de rigueur. It may well be true to say: The future’s bright: The future’s orange!

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