eugenics,

When talking about the human genome, probably the least subject that comes to our minds is history. After all, genetics is a state of the art science, and new discoveries can only be possible by using the latest technology available.

However, don’t you remember one of the last ‘genetic experiments’ that took place about a century ago and its disastrous results? Eugenics – the science of improving desirable characteristics in a certain population – has been practiced for more than 100 years now.

This has been in place since the propagation of ideas of ‘perfect’ human beings by Sir Francis Galton; marriage laws in the ‘newly-born’ America that prohibited engagements to epileptics, immigrants, the poor.

Then of course, it led to attempts to create a ‘Superior’ Aryan race by Hitler. Indeed, eugenics has not been free-of-mishaps over the years, and reasons are obvious: human enhancement is, and will always be analyzed with a fine-tooth comb.

The reasons are obvious. When talking about genetic modification to be used in animals or plants to increase their ‘productivity’ rate, the dilemma is not that big. Thus we have to fight hunger for the benefit of humanity.

Herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant crops have not produced substantial damage to people in general – at least at first glance. In contrast, even the idea to develop a super-human has caused millions of deaths, just in the last century.

But why? Probably the main reason is that life, as it has been conceived since the beginning of humanity, consists of how we balance our physical and mental wellbeing, and, altering that harmony, either way, can make us ‘less’ human.

transhumanism

To start, the developing of better-disease-free humans can only be assured by researching directly on humans. As that can be harmful, let´s not forget how some scientist tried to improve the quality of life of humans, by creating new techniques, medicines, and therapies to cure existing diseasesin attempts to create perfect physical development.

That been said, J. Marion Sims, improved some surgical procedures in gynaecology by “practicing” and by doing so, destroying the lives of black women he used for his experiments. Likewise, in the 1950s, studies to find the cure for syphilis were conducted on thousands of prisoners in Guatemala -by infecting them with the disease. This caused most of their deaths.

In the same fashion, the results of creating a ‘better’ human being can create a new form of discrimination. In the past, this has led to millions of deaths and wars – or even the gradual extinction of the human being as we know it now.

This might sound catalytically tragic, but how about remembering how only differences in the colour of the skin provoked thousands of deaths in the Apartheid or the Slavery-era in America, can you imagine how these super-humans could see ‘regular’ homo-sapiens?

Even extinction can be a possibility. Homo-Neanderthalensis lived in the same areas of Homo-Sapiens just 30,000 years ago and they became extinct. Some theories argue that “we” killed them, other suggested that they mated with our ancestors. But who knows? The fact is that even without a massive slaughter, they are gone, and that can happen to us too with the expansion of eugenics.

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