Is Spending Resources on Genetic Engineering Fair or Sensible?
Last year, I heard Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project assert that genetic research would provide power tools to extend human lives.
But why should society spend billions on genetic research designed to extend the lives of a relatively very small number of affluent Americans, when such money could be far better spent on much more cost effective measures to save many potentially healthy people and the environments that sustain them?
Consider the following as a basis for some alternative investments. Two weeks ago, the Worldwatch Institute reported that 1.2 billion people are now chronically underfed, more than ever before. We have lost half of our topsoil in this country in the past forty years, potable water sources are shrinking as contamination spreads and even the oceans have been over-fished. We already do pretty well in keeping Americans alive-- by 2023, the entire U.S. is likely to have the same age structure as Florida has now.
Why not spend money on low-tech measures to preserve environments and communities that sustain much larger numbers of people? Other than the undue influence of affluence and our technological obsession, why are we heavily subsidizing research that is fundamentally undemocratic? Is it really humanistic for us to seek more power tools when so many people could live so much better if they only had hammer and nails?