It can be seen, therefore, that neither positive nor negative eugenics can ever significantly improve the gene pool of the population and simultaneously allow for adequate evolutionary improvement of the human race. The only useful aspect of negative eugenics is in individual counseling of specific families in order to prevent some of the births of abnormal individuals. One recent advance in this sphere has important implications from both a genetic and a social point of view. It is now possible to diagnose genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in an unborn child by obtaining cells from the amniotic fluid in which the child lives in the mother. Although the future may bring further advances, allowing one to start treatment on the unborn child and to produce a functionally normal infant, the only currently possible solution is restricted to termination of particular pregnancies by therapeutic abortion. This is, of course, applied negative eugenics in its most extreme form.
Euthenics, the alteration of the environment to allow aberrant individuals to develop normally and to lead a normal life, is currently being employed. Medical examples include special diets for children with a variety of inborn errors of metabolism who would, in the absence of such diets, either die or grow up mentally retarded. Such action, of course, requires very early diagnosis of these diseases, and programs are currently in effect to routinely examine newborns for such defects. Other examples include the treatment of diabetics with insulin and the provision of special devices for children with skeletal deformities. Social measures are of extreme im portance in this regard. As has many times been pointed out by Dobzhansky, it is useless to plan for any type of genetic improvement if we do not provide an environment within which an individual can best use his strong qualities and obtain support for his weak qualities. One need only mention the availability of an environment conducive to artistic endeavor for Toulouse-Lautree, who was deformed by an inherited disease.
The feasibility of alteration of an individual's genes by direct chemical change of his DNA is technically an enormously difficult task. Even if it became possible to do this, the chance of error would be enormous. Such an error, of course, would have the diametrically opposite effect of that desired; in other words, the individual would become even more abnormal. The introduction of corrective genetic material by viruses or transplantation or appropriately hybridized cells is technically predictable and, since it would be performed only in a single affected individual, would have no direct effect on the population. If it became widespread, it could, like eu-thenics, increase the frequency in the population of so-called abnormal genes, but if this treatment became a routine phenomenon, it would not develop into an evolutionarily disadvantageous situation. It must also be constantly kept in mind that medical advances are occurring at a much more rapid rate than any conceivable deterioration of the genetic endowment of man. It is, therefore, very likely that such corrective procedures will become commonplace long before there is a noticeable increase in the load of disadvantageous genes in the population.
The growing of human beings from cultured cells, while again possibly feasible, would interfere with the action of evolutionary forces. There would be an increase, just as with positive eugenics, of a number of individuals who would be alike in their genetic complement, with no opportunity for the high degree of genetic recombination that occurs during the formation of sperm and eggs and which is evident in the resultant progeny. This would diminish the adaptability of the population to changes in the environment and, if these genetic replicas were later permitted to return to sexual reproduction, would lead to a marked increase in homozygosity for a number of genes with the disadvantages pointed out before.
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All you need is a proper diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise and you'll be fine. Ever heard those words from your doctor? If that's all heshe recommends then you're missing out an important ingredient for health that he's not telling you. Fact is that you can adhere to the strictest diet, watch everything you eat and get the exercise of amarathon runner and still come down with diabetic complications. Diet, exercise and standard drug treatments simply aren't enough to help keep your diabetes under control.