This technique for extending human life has a risk-benefit clearly negative
At present, genome editing techniques, especially CRISPR-Cas-9, seems to open up a whole range of promising applications in the fields of medicine, agriculture, animal husbandry and protection of the environment. Nevertheless, these applications are not exempt from bioethical questions, among which is the application of these techniques on the germline, i.e. on the gametes or early embryo.
The main ethical issues raised by germline gene editing are the inability to predict the risks in the genetically modified individual and his offspring.
The main ethical issues raised by germline gene editing are the inability to predict the risks of that application in the genetically modified individuals, the fact that any modifications made will be transmitted to subsequent generations, and the possibility that these techniques are used to produce so-called “designer babies which are genetically “enhanced”.
An ethical approach
In this respect, one of the “enhancements” could consist in extending the human lifespan. Apart from the aforementioned risks for modified individuals and their offspring, a recent article (B.M.J. see HERE) highlights other ethical concerns that make this specific application an option to avoid. According to the author, based on different studies on human psychology, “a vital ingredient of human contentment and health is being integrated into a cohort of similarly aged people and experiencing life’s trials and tribulations contemporaneously. A person genetically engineered to live longer than their peers will experience the loss of their cohort and many from the generation following them“. To this is added the fact that, due to the characteristics of the technique, the individual affected would be unable to give their informed consent. This, therefore, is a case in which the risk-benefit is clearly negative, and so is considered ethically unacceptable.