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  • Subject area(s): Science
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  • Published on: 15th October 2019
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Scientifically speaking, every human has its own and unique sequence of genes. Some may genetically be superior and some may genetically be inferior, depending mostly on their abilities, capacities, and capabilities as an individual. Though being superior is basically referred to as those who “normally survive” in their environment, since they have a good set of genes that could enable them to inherit excellent traits, and make them susceptible to most diseases. In the movie called “Gattaca”, this concept was somehow manipulated and emphasized by categorizing valids from invalids based on their DNA. Those “valids” who were engineered to particularly have a very good set of genes were accepted in Gattaca, while those invalids who were referred to as individuals with “bad genes”, became genetically discriminated and unaccepted (Niccol, “Gattaca”). Modern Genetic Engineering introduced the idea of rearranging or recombining genes during a child’s birth process, in order to achieve specific traits that could be beneficial for them in the future. This was mainly studied to at least prevent babies from suffering to certain types of disabilities and illnesses, because of inheritance and infertility issues. The rapid advancement in technology paved the way for the idea of what they call “Designer Babies”, which could lead to the scientific world finally pursuing the vision of Genetic Engineering (Ly). Genetic Engineering introduces the PGD or preimplantation genetic diagnosis that allows certain embryos to be tested for different genetic traits like sex-linked diseases, before implanting it in the mother. Through this process, embryos that are predisposed to genetic conditions are selected for the achievement of preferable traits and health conditions (Ly). Just like what happened in Gattaca, “valid” individuals have undergone several methods of genetic engineering which basically manipulated the natural process of Inheritance, Adaptation, Variation, Natural Selection, and Mutation respectively. In the movie, the original “Jerome” was a perfect example of a designer baby that contained high standard genes, therefore giving him certain traits like higher intelligence, better physical capabilities, and features. He is a product of modern genetic selection that contradicted the process of natural selection. Vincent Freeman, who was considered to be genetically inferior because of his heart failure, took advantage of Jerome’s “perfect” genes to achieve his dream of going into space by being fully accepted. (Niccol, “Gattaca”).

Furthermore, different biological processes help shape the individuals that we are today. These are also the main reasons why diversity exists, evolution occurs and why individuals differ from one another. Inheritance of genes occurs through reproduction and passing of DNA to offspring. Both parents pass an equal amount of deoxyribonucleic acid of their DNA to their child, which creates unique combinations of genes resulting in mixed genetic variation (Larsen). That is why genetic engineering, as shown in the movie “Gattaca”, is now questioned because of ethics. This type of process has some similarities with “Selective or Artificial Breeding”, which is normally done with animals. One example of this is breeding between foxes and dogs. Genetic Engineering and Selective Breeding may differ with each other, but the outlook and viewpoint are pretty much the same in terms of the recombination of genes and its goal. The only thing that was questioned was if it was morally acceptable in the case of humans (Simmons). This leads to the introduction of different varieties, which are obviously seen in human characteristics and features.

Moreover, Variation is defined as dissimilarities between individuals or group of organisms caused by genetic differences. It can be shown through physical appearances, fertility, learning abilities, mental abilities and behavioral characteristics (“Variation”). This process was intentionally manipulated in the movie “Gattaca”, with the case of Anton Freeman, the brother of Vincent Freeman. Vincent’s father wished for his child to have great genes but when he found out about Vincent having certain diseases and failures, he was merely disappointed. Their second child, Anton Freeman, undergone genetic manipulation that made him an individual who contained great genes, therefore worthy of his father’s name. He was genetically engineered as a baby to grow up and be susceptible to threatening diseases and other risks, unlike his brother. This is an example of how variation could be controlled. It could prevent Anton from ending up like Vincent who is considered incapable (Niccol, “Gattaca”). It is a process on which the differences would be more emphasized between genes, making sure that certain traits and health conditions would not be inherited. It may be positive or negative or maybe even neutral, depending on how they would adapt to it. One thing is for sure though, it will be different. As mentioned a while ago, this process also saves children who are prone to early exposure to sicknesses that may cause serious risks in the future.

In addition to that, the environment technically decides which genes are good or bad for an individual, depending on how it would it adapt to it. Adaptation and Natural Selection are great factors that determine diversity in terms of differences through a unique combination of genes. Natural Selection has been there for years, meaning, it was indeed effective when it comes to survival. Selective Variation in the case of these “Designer Babies”, may be good or may be bad depending on how it adapts to its environment to survive. This could be crucial since the process where it came from is very unusual, and is certainly different from the normal selection. Variations that are usual and “unusual” could result in a positive outcome, still depending on the process of adapting. Remember, being different does not always mean that it is good. This could be the reason why biologists still study genetic engineering up to now. It may have advantages and disadvantages that could change the way genetic engineering is perceived in the science world.

Indeed, advanced human technology could already accomplish things that are way beyond our imagination. From the chromosomes being discovered as carriers of inheritance in 1883 to genes being described as the fundamental units of heredity in 1909 (Larsen), to further studying genes and be engineered to avoid certain disabilities and diseases. As time goes by, these advancements in technology help give way for these amazing discoveries, yet still, biology is limited by technology. Every time researchers manage to make an amazing technological breakthrough, the biological study can always overcome some of these limitations. For example, research on humans like “designer babies” cannot just be conducted at any time since researchers have to go through different trials. It can be done with animals, but it is critical to do it with humans based on its riskiness (Dougherty et. al 574-587). It clearly explains how there is a limitation even in science. This is why the researchers are very useful in the science world, they know that biology has its limitations but they do not need to stop because of this fact. Instead, they are taking advantage of this kind of technology that we have now, to give the world better solutions and innovations.

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