Gattaca

‘Perfect’ human has been used in this context to mean human whose germline has been modified to facilitate better traits as compared to natural human. Human who have been eugenicide can live longer healthier lives.  Eugenics is the term commonly used for this process. Sir Francis Galton came up with that idea believing that through selectively breeding desired traits human race could be in a position to direct its future. The genetically modified man is portrayed to have more desirable features and smart. This can be succinctly observed in the movie Gattaca, where Roger refers to them as genetically superior computer programmers.

The movie’s intent is to bring forth the idea that altering the DNA can perfect human race. This also might be the reason why the director chose the title Gattaca which is composed of the letter that are used to label DNA’s nucleotide bases, that is guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine. Vincent, a lead character in the movie was born imperfect. By that I mean he was not genetically enhanced. He had complications ranging from eyesight, heart problems and had a short life expectancy of 30 years. Because of these reasons he was labeled imperfect and an “IN-Valid”. As a result, he was not allowed to travel with other valid. The movie clearly shows that a gene engineered human is much better than the natural human as observed by Roger.

Notably, gene editing comes with its own advantages. According to scientists, this technology can be used to cure diseases such as Huntington’s, cystic fibrosis and other gene related problems by manipulating genes directly and implanting of healthy genetic sequence into germ cells of humans. Besides, gene editing lowers the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS.  Basically, a human being whose genes have been modified will feel and be seen as more perfect and more superior than those who have not. Further, scientist asserts that the IQ for genetically engineered human is higher compared to the natural human. Therefore, naturally, these two human beings cannot be categorized in the same rank. But still, human spirit is the most important component in a living human. A human being is considered human because of the spirit. However, the spirit cannot be engineered. This is because the human spirit has no DNA strands. Still, though different character traits, a genetically engineered human has the same spirit as a natural human, hence he is still human and thus there is no need for the ‘perfect human’ to look down upon the natural man.

Daniel Kevles, a historian of science is one scientist who does not support eugenics before of the divisions it will cause in the society. He views the specter of genetics not unique to the Nazi’s but something that can be experienced anywhere. More people in the society attribute what is being propagated by this movie as undermining the principle of equality. ‘Designer babies’ is the term given to the gene enhanced in this movie.  Daniel, (Kevles, 15) who is against ‘designer babies’ supports the idea that the technology may resort to inequalities among people as it can only be accessible to the affluent in the society. CNN once published that a couple who wish to access this technology once it has been licensed by Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority will be required to part with $3000. This amount can only be afforded by the haves and not the haves nots. Additionally, Hayes suggests that this technology will change the view which people have for children. They will hence view children as commodities.

The natural ability of the natural human will be suppressed. Most likely the natural children would not wish to go to school, reason being that their counterparts are much smarter than them. Though this movie is fictional, the aspect of intelligence of the gene edited human can be clearly brought out by how the characters carry out themselves. Vincent, a natural human does not have white collar job like the genetically enhanced. He is a cleaner, a menial job that is considered suitable for those who are not educated. A society with genetically enhanced humans coexisting with natural humans cannot be equal.

It is my personal opinion that the director did wise by cutting the last part of the movie that was intended for the final film. I base this on the fact that the cut part could have strong implications for gene editing and scientists, maybe, could rush to enforce the use of genetically modified embryos. This could lead to more complications than solutions. Kofi Annan, while General for UN in 2004 warned that scientists are trying to ‘play God’ with unforeseen consequences awaiting that will result to our destruction. He further wanted to know whether the dangers of the process outweighs the benefits and whether the line should be drawn between what is feasible and what is ethical. (UN News Centre). Further, International Summit for medical professionals in Washington DC last year advised that edited embryos should not be used to establish pregnancies. By this he was against the idea of rushing for eugenics, which this movie is built upon.

To sum up, people with complications that are gene related can still survive in the society and be renowned in the field they are good at. An example is Stephen Hawking whose mother attributes his intellect nature to his debilitating disease which forced him to be immobile. Vincent Van Gogh, Albert Einstein, John F Kennedy and others too were not genetically enhanced but rather genetically challenged but still were and are still great people in the society.

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