READ MORE: Government regulation and enforcement of genetic enhancements are inevitable in an increasingly managed society.
In a world where many powerful or largely supported groups advocate forced population control such as China’s one-child policy and abortion-inducing vaccines in Africa, extensive restrictions on individual choices for environmental control, and decreasing freedoms to act according to religious moralities, government activism in regard to genetic engineering of human embryos would hardly be a surprise.
If society turns a blind eye to issues related to genetic engineering and government control, the result could be a drastic increase in government power, loss of freedom, and amoral management of citizens.
As much as some theorists might imagine a world where parents make free decisions about the genetic engineering of their children, we have seen that the government rarely avoids increasing its regulation of parental decisions. In such areas as education, vaccinations, childcare, safety helmets, soda drinking (in New York City), and even teaching religious morality, the government rarely fails to use regulations to shape society and citizens.
The moral values and personal interests that guide those regulations usually represent the views of a small minority. Political conflict only increases use of the government’s power to impose compromises or the winners’ preferences through regulations.
Our entire society has an interest in how parents define morality, human nature, and desirability in regard to genetic engineering of their children.
Other citizens will usually prefer genetically engineered children who are more capable of productively contributing to society and less likely to require expensive resources like disability services or healthcare. Others may prefer management of the gender, racial characteristics, and looks of the population.
Government bureaucrats are naturally interested in meeting their administrative goals, often by gaining greater control over the factors – including citizens themselves – that complicate their efforts.
A new technology like genetic engineering of embryos creates very tempting opportunities for not only managing the behaviors of society, but also managing the relevant characteristics of individuals. Consider, for example, the significant benefits to the military from genetic engineering that produces more intelligent and physically capable citizens.
Even advocates of liberal eugenics – the free activity of parents in engineering their children’s identities – admit that governments may actively fund and influence select genetic enhancements and may very well impose mandatory enhancements. Allen Buchanan (2011) even proposes a Global Institute for Justice in Innovation to influence the distribution of genetic enhancements among the population.
Many of the proponents of liberal eugenics have logically extended their arguments to advocating not a freedom, but an obligation to genetically enhance human beings. (For example, Savulescu 2001, 2008, and 2011, and Buchanan, Brock, Daniels, and Wikler, 2000.)
Wealthy and privileged parents as well as privileged human races will very likely benefit to the detriment of the poor and those races (especially Black or African American) traditionally discriminated against. The Americans most likely to engage in IVF (in vitro fertilization), which is part of the genetic editing process, are white and wealthy (Dorothy Roberts, 1997).