Posted by Guest presenter, Llinda Arnold on Jun 17, 2019
Father's Day typically brings to mind the special men in our lives, but with today's genetic technology, the definition of father continues to expand. Today's program examines genetic modifications and the promises and questions already at play.


PRESIDING TODAY IS: Diana Martinelli, President

bellDing! We’re now in session.

Welcome all – visitors, fellow Rotarians and guests alike to this E-Club program!

Remember the Four-Way Test!

At the beginning of each meeting we remind ourselves of the The Four-Way Test.  Therefore, please remember to ask yourself always . . .

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Reflective Moments

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong."
          – Charles Wadsworth
"Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song."
         -- Pam Brown

A Light Moment 

Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.

Father’s Day Reflections in the Age of Technology

Although Mother’s Day has been a national holiday since 1914 (owing in large part to the efforts of West Virginian Anna Jarvis, from Grafton), Father’s Day was not declared a national holiday until 1972. Its first observance, however, was decades earlier—in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Smart Dodd was the first advocate for the national holiday, which she sought as a way to honor fathers like hers—a widower who raised six children. 
Of course, fathers come in all types--biological, inspirational, legal—and with today’s modern technology, “father” holds even more meanings. On a recent radio broadcast, I heard a futurist on TedTalk discuss the fear each generation tends to hold toward advanced technology. For example, in speaking of parenthood, he mentioned how confused, awed and potentially fearful people in the early 20th century might have been if you told them that in the future one could intentionally have sex without pregnancy, and that one could also have pregnancy without sex.
Something even more difficult for them to grasp would be the fact that in 2016 the first child with three biological parents was born: the traditional biological mother and father, plus a third person who did not carry the gene for Leigh’s disease, a devastating illness that affects babies’ developing nervous systems. Thus, the child who was born from these three parents’ DNA—and his future children, and theirs—will not be destined to inherit the disease.  (See the Newsweek article about the birth here.)
Therefore, through such technology, inherited diseases could become a thing of the past, much as inoculations have wiped out or nearly eradicated certain diseases, such as polio, today. But there is always room for abuse and for unintended consequences, particularly when one interferes with the highly complex, nuanced and sophisticated systems of nature. Therefore, ethical guidelines heretofore unimagined will need to be developed.
In Europe, there is already some guidance in place not only for genetically modified crops but for genetically modified humans as well. However, this is but the start, as China has already experimented with modified human embryos (sometimes called “designer babies”), and the technology to do so, called “Crisper,” is already widely available.
Therefore, as we honor our fathers of all types this week—biological, legal, and father figures who have mentored and guided us—let us begin to consider the vast technological landscape around procreation and the possibilities that it might afford us. But we must also be aware of the need for safeguards as the technology to alter and “design” human life becomes ever more available.
Take a moment now to watch this fascinating 2015 TedTalk and to ponder its implications….. I encourage you to leave a message in response. Following the TedTalk are links to more recent articles that discuss gene modification, its current status and implications.

TedTalk: What if my neighbor’s kid was genetically modified? by Paul Knoepfler

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