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Do medical interventions weaken the human gene pool?We have to agree or disagree with...

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rphal1 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:29 AM via web

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Do medical interventions weaken the human gene pool?

We have to agree or disagree with this statement, what are your thoughts? 

 

“By interfering with human lifecycles through medical

                        intervention we are weakening the human gene pool.”

6 Answers | Add Yours

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:51 AM (Answer #2)

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I do not take this statement seriously.  You could argue that everything that human beings have done to make their lives easier would be weakening the gene pool.  Learning to make and wear clothes weakens the gene pool because it doesn't allow those who are most resistant to cold to live.  Cooking meat weakens the gene pool because it makes it easier to digest the meat, thus allowing the weak to live.  Making bows and arrows weakens the gene pool by allowing people to hunt without having to be brave and cunning enough to get into range for a spear thrust.  So I don't see what is so different about medical interventions...

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:33 AM (Answer #3)

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I suppose you could argue that the weakest people are getting the extra help, and therefore weakening the gene pool.  However, strong people could be ill too. Sometimes it has nothing to do with strength when you get hurt or injured.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted October 13, 2012 at 3:49 AM (Answer #4)

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The gene pool is nature's great experiment.  Sometimes it is a great success, and sometimes it goes awry.  When it does not work out well, those whose genes are somehow problematic are less likely to pass on those genes to a new generation.  So, when we tamper with those genes, we might very well be creating more problems for the future than we solve.  That is one reason to not tamper with genes.  Another is that genes tend to be "bundled."  There is some speculation that in the bundling, there are good traits and bad, so for example, it is possible that the genes passed down that carry a genetic disease might also confer some advantage.  Thus, we run the risk of doing away with the good as well as the bad.  That is another reason to be wary.  Additionally, variability in genes is quite important because in a population with too much similarity, recessive genes emerge, often with very undesirable consequences.  The more variability there is, as I understand it, the less likely it is to pass on many genetic diseases and conditions.  Since tampering at will with genes implies that people will want to all converge on some "ideal" that includes intelligence, beauty, and strength, we could very well lose a great deal of variability. 

Now, having said that, do I think that if I had a child who could be "fixed" through gene tampering I would turn it down?  Not necessarily, of course.  However, I do think that scientists, doctors, and people in general should at least consider the consequences, not just in the individual case, but also for the human race.  So many "advances" have unintended consequences, from the introduction of rabbits to Australia to the giving of too much oxygen to premature infants, creating a generation of blind children. 

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trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 15, 2012 at 12:32 AM (Answer #5)

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Since life doesn't operate in a vaccum, medical interventions have an effect on the gene pool just as anything else in the environment does. If an infertile couple is medically assisted to produce offspring that might never have been born, their genes will now persist to the next generation, although they weren't the "fittest". We will never know if those genes will strengthen or weaken the gene pool until the child is born. However, medical interventions also help people find out if a recessive trait like sickle cell anemia or Tay Sach's or other conditions were inherited by a fetus and may choose to terminate their pregnancy. One can argue this may "strengthen" the gene pool in certain circumstances. However, as the environment changes whether naturally or due to medical science, there will definitely be some type of effect on living organisms.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM (Answer #6)

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One could argue that we as humans have taken evolution away and thus weakened our species.  If you were to take this stance, then western medicine is not the only source of said weakness.  We live in air conditioned and heated homes.  We no longer forage for food or build shelters with our own hands.  The weak are supported by the strong in our society.  This, along with advance in medicine, allow us all to live much longer and more comfortable lives.  It also allows us to pass on more undesirable traits.  For instance, a child with a genetic heart defect might once have died but can now be saved.  This child can then grow to adulthood and pass on the genetic disorder which, in a way, weakens the gene pool.  Of course, one could also argue that this child might be a great scientist, leader, or otherwise shift the future of humanity.  While our species may have grown weaker in some ways, we have grown stronger in others.  There is merit on both sides of the argument.

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photographicink | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 29, 2012 at 5:19 AM (Answer #7)

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Do medical interventions weaken the human gene pool?

We have to agree or disagree with this statement, what are your thoughts? 

 

“By interfering with human lifecycles through medical

                        intervention we are weakening the human gene pool.”

My thoughts are it doesn't matter.  To live in a world where a person's life is held in the hand of others is not a world worthy to live in.

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