Author Topic: Gene drives are we playing god?  (Read 1208 times)

Gene drives are we playing god?
« on: April 03, 2018, 12:57:07 PM »
What are the moral and ethical responsibilities of using genetic engineering to destroy a species?

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Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2018, 02:05:19 PM »
We started playing god about 40,000 - 60,000 years ago when we started forest fires to clear land to plant crops.

But as for killing off an entire species?   Considering how long some species took to evolve in the first place and how little we know about how genes really work and interact with each other, (let alone more complex things like ecosystems);  I think that it would be very short sighted to eliminate entire species outright.

( Yes, I would bring a xenomorph back for study.    No, I wouldn't put it inside Ripley or Newt to do it. )

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tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. -Plato

Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2018, 02:40:07 PM »
Human beings have no ethics, just rhetorical virtue signaling.  So there is no such thing as bio-ethics.  Technically, eco-kosher is bioethics, but it only applies to Jews, but there are no real Jews.  Sorcerer's apprentice much?  That is basically what humans are, in theism.

I think it is the height of hubris to directly (as opposed to animal/plant husbandry of the Neolithic) manipulate genes, of higher species in general, and humans in particular.  But we will, and will go extinct, and the rest of the universe will breath a huge sigh of relief.

There are good reasons to manipulate the genes of microbes ... biowarfare.
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Offline Hydra009

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2018, 03:51:28 PM »
It'd absolutely be moral to wipe out diseases that harm thousands, sometimes millions, of humans a year.  However, we should be very, very careful about how we deploy such measures. 

Antiobiotics was a wonder cure until antiobiotic resistance evolved, in part because of misuse (prescribed to people who didn't need it, and used on a massive scale on livestock).  DDT has a similarly reckless and unwary history.

Eliminate harmful mosquitoes and kudzu from the South, and I'll be a happy man.

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2018, 04:11:20 PM »
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It'd absolutely be moral to wipe out diseases that harm thousands, sometimes millions, of humans a year.  However, we should be very, very careful about how we deploy such measures. 

Antiobiotics was a wonder cure until antiobiotic resistance evolved, in part because of misuse (prescribed to people who didn't need it, and used on a massive scale on livestock).  DDT has a similarly reckless and unwary history.

Eliminate harmful mosquitoes and kudzu from the South, and I'll be a happy man.

So you believe it moral for one species to wipe out another species that cares a disease that kills far less than 1% percentage of its population?

For reference
429,000 malaria deaths - You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
7.6 billion people in the world - You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
500000 / 6700000000 = %0.00007462686 You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

I agree with you as a fellow southerner that I personally would be VERY happy without mosquitoes, but I'm interested in discussing the ramifications of the action which I see mainly for comfort.
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Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2018, 05:15:05 PM »
Yeah, mosquitos really suck. ;-)
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Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2018, 05:26:04 PM »
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So you believe it moral for one species to wipe out another species that cares a disease that kills far less than 1% percentage of its population?

For reference
429,000 malaria deaths - You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
7.6 billion people in the world - You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
500000 / 6700000000 = %0.00007462686 You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

I agree with you as a fellow southerner that I personally would be VERY happy without mosquitoes, but I'm interested in discussing the ramifications of the action which I see mainly for comfort.

For me, the consideration of eliminating a species involves how it would affect people, followed by how it would affect intelligent creatures that can suffer. If a creature is harmful to humans we should consider whether it needs to be eliminated or contained. If a creature isn't harmful I see no point in eliminating it. A virus isn't very intelligent, is difficult to contain, and can do a lot of harm so I have no problem with eliminating it. Mammals can be dangerous but they can also suffer and can be easily contained, so I would be against eliminating a species. I don't think mosquitos can suffer, they are difficult to contain, and they can pose serious health risks to humans, so I would consider eliminating them. The problem is we don't know whether the consequences of eliminating them would be harmful to both humans and creatures that can suffer. If we knew that eliminating mosquitos would create positive consequences for humans and other creatures I'm for it, but I don't think we currently know enough about the repercussions.

We have our yard sprayed for mosquitos every three weeks during the warm months.
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline Hydra009

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2018, 01:45:24 AM »
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So you believe it moral for one species to wipe out another species that cares a disease that kills far less than 1% percentage of its population?
Absolutely.  In fact, I believe polio and smallpox also fit that scenario.  Quick show of hands, anybody think we made a bad decision wiping those out?

I'm down for a rational debate when there really are two viable sides to the issue.  Is that the case here?

Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2018, 06:15:17 AM »
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Absolutely.  In fact, I believe polio and smallpox also fit that scenario.  Quick show of hands, anybody think we made a bad decision wiping those out?

I'm down for a rational debate when there really are two viable sides to the issue.  Is that the case here?

Small pox may still exist, because the US and USSR are liars.  All superpowers have illegal bioweapons programs.  However polio is down over 99% from 1988-2017 with only 22 cases last year.  Estimated 16 million plus saved from paralysis.  So reduction yes, wiping out ... not happened yet.
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Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2018, 08:45:45 AM »
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Absolutely.  In fact, I believe polio and smallpox also fit that scenario.  Quick show of hands, anybody think we made a bad decision wiping those out?

I'm down for a rational debate when there really are two viable sides to the issue.  Is that the case here?

No polio doesn't fit that scenario it hasn't been eradicated. Smallpox is closer, but it's definitely debatable if a virus has the same value as a mosquito. I personally think the distinction matters. Mosquitoes live outside of a "host".

As this is a discussion of morals if you don't rationally feel like destroying a species of animals is a moral dilemma then there is no reason for you to participate. Personally I have questions about how far humans are willing to go to destroy this planet and the life on it for their comfort. As the dominant species I feel like we have a responsibility to be just rules, and I feel like the attitude of "whatever is best for me, is the moral choice" is a scary attitude to have when you are at the top of the food chain. We are already wiping out species by accident with our pollution and trash, now we're going to add premeditated to the card without discussion? I mean don't get me wrong I prefer a world without mosquitoes, but there is a difference between what I want, and what the right thing to do. 
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Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2018, 12:07:23 PM »
Is it really playing God, though? Seems to me if you want to play God, you just be quiet, don't do anything, and pretend you aren't there. As for mosquitoes, screw them. The world would be just fine if they didn't exist.
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2018, 01:13:09 PM »
Well, those species that eat mosquitos might not like doing without them. Maybe they could get by, and maybe not. We just need to remember that we can't eradicate one species without affecting others.
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Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2018, 01:49:26 PM »
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Is it really playing God, though? Seems to me if you want to play God, you just be quiet, don't do anything, and pretend you aren't there. As for mosquitoes, screw them. The world would be just fine if they didn't exist.

That would be the Taoist god, or at least Lao Tzu.
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Offline Baruch

Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2018, 01:52:09 PM »
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No polio doesn't fit that scenario it hasn't been eradicated. Smallpox is closer, but it's definitely debatable if a virus has the same value as a mosquito. I personally think the distinction matters. Mosquitoes live outside of a "host".

As this is a discussion of morals if you don't rationally feel like destroying a species of animals is a moral dilemma then there is no reason for you to participate. Personally I have questions about how far humans are willing to go to destroy this planet and the life on it for their comfort. As the dominant species I feel like we have a responsibility to be just rules, and I feel like the attitude of "whatever is best for me, is the moral choice" is a scary attitude to have when you are at the top of the food chain. We are already wiping out species by accident with our pollution and trash, now we're going to add premeditated to the card without discussion? I mean don't get me wrong I prefer a world without mosquitoes, but there is a difference between what I want, and what the right thing to do.

Massive extinction has been underway for about 100 years now.  Mosquitos are the host for other illnesses, like malaria and West Nile.  One method of secondary control, has been to produce disease resistant male insects to compete in mating with the diseased ones.
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Re: Gene drives are we playing god?
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2018, 02:39:22 PM »
Apparently, male mosquitoes do not drink blood, but feed on nectar. Would it be possible to genetically alter female mosquitoes to drink only nectar?
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

 

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