Genetic editing should not even be considered

In the debate on genetic engineering, it should not be a question of proceeding with caution, but whether it should even be done in the first place ("Proceed with caution on genetic engineering" by Ms Denise Lee Hui Jean; Feb 23).

Humanity longs to engineer genetic diseases out of our biological inheritance, but can anyone eliminate the possibility of stroke, diseases, accidents and so on in the later part of our lives ("Gene-edited babies: From red light to orange... and then green?"; Feb 20)?

What do we do then with the old and the frail, the weak and the disabled who exist in our society? Do we eventually eliminate ourselves?

Our human heart is self-centred and has an insatiable appetite for perfection.

Singapore has the tendency to follow the trends in other countries, and takes pride in it, without considering the moral stand of each policy.

First, we had assisted reproduction technology such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), on the false premises that people have a right to have children and it is necessary to promote population growth. Indeed, the latter is why the Government is co-funding IVF.

Individuals are treated almost as economic units in a social engineering project. Where is the value of human beings as bearers of equal rights?

From IVF, we proceeded to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which is done here to check for disorders like thalassemia, haemophilia and muscular dystrophy.

Embryos with problematic genes are destroyed.

This year the Ministry of Health (MOH) will implement a pilot programme - pre-implantation genetic screening - whereby embryos with chromosomal abnormalities will be discarded ("Trial for screening IVF embryos to start soon"; Nov 11, 2016).

As it is, a substantial number of people view IVF treatment as illicit because it involves spare embryos, with many discarded if they are not of good enough quality for a healthy pregnancy.

The pursuit of such perfection is futile because we cannot have a perfect life that is free from stress, problems, diseases, accidents, ageing and death.

We do not need to be fearful of sufferings but should view them as challenges to shape our character and instil in us priceless values.

As a woman with a genetic disorder, I would not want any editing in my genes because I am wonderfully made.

Through my disability, I learn resilience, and I teach that to the next generation.

Ho Lay Ping (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Genetic editing should not even be considered'. Print Edition | Subscribe