Gene editing will create more divisions in society

In his letter (Gene editing can be great social leveller; March 1), Mr Abel Tan accepts that gene editing is linked to eugenics, but claims that it can be a profound social leveller.

This is untrue.

Eugenics is the science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable hereditary characteristics.

History has proven that societies that practised eugenics, such as America in the late 19th century or Nazi Germany, have discriminated against those deemed "undesirable" and caused serious division between different groups of people in society.

The practice of eugenics also runs contrary to the principle of the inalienable worth and dignity of all human beings, which is the foundation of fundamental human rights.

Children are not commodities or objects, but have inherent rights, including the right to life and personal security.

The notion that there exists a so-called "right to edit one's own children" objectifies children and violates their bodily integrity.

A society that endorses gene editing would open the door to a divide between genetic "haves" and "have-nots".

It marginalises those with disabilities, congenital disorders or other "undesirable" characteristics, thus failing to uphold the values of equality and non-discrimination essential to social harmony.

The qualities that make us human do not lie in the endless pursuit of genetic perfection.

Instead, a cohesive and robust society is built on the qualities of compassion, unconditional love and resilience, no matter the circumstances.

Darius Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Gene editing will create more divisions in society'. Print Edition | Subscribe