Ethics of Genetic Modification

Is gene modification ethical? With programs like CRISPR, gene modification has been a topic throughout science fiction and real-world science in recent times. Science fiction shows can show the possibilities of gene modification but can also show some of the downsides. Orphan Black, a Canadian sci-fi thriller about clones, shows some ethical issues with genetic modification and more specifically cloning. Humans have already begun experimenting with cloning as far back as 1996 with Dolly the Sheep, the first-ever mammal to be cloned. When experimenting with the genetic makeup and structure of living beings, it is important to consider morals and ethics, such as should we even mess with our own genetics? What are the consequences of doing so? We also have to consider how genetic modification would affect those that are modified and how society would look in a future where genetic modification is commonplace. These speculative themes are explored in science fiction and can help us further understand and think about some of the ethical and moral ambiguities of genetic modification.

[What are some of the ethical and moral questions when it comes to human genetic modification? There are a lot of ethical and moral debates about human genetic modification, and how that can affect society on a grand scale.]


Manson, Graeme, John Fawcett, Tatiana Maslany, Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, Kevin Hanchard, Michael Mando, Maria D. Kennedy, Skyler Wexler, Matt Frewer, and Kristian Bruun. Orphan Black: Season One. , 2013.


Orphan Black is a Canadian science-fiction thriller about Sarah Manning. The show tackles themes of cloning and genetic modification as well as some of the moral, ethical, and legal issues with it. The show uses a lot of real and factual science to discuss the themes presented and is useful to my research as a way to connect real-world science to speculative problems of science fiction.


Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell. “Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR.” YouTube, uploaded by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, 10 Aug. 2016,

Dvorsky, George. “The Real-Life Science Behind Orphan Black.” Io9, Gizmodo, 16 Dec. 2015,

Fikse, Alyssa. “‘Orphan Black’ Continues To Grapple With Huge Themes In Its Final Season.” UPROXX, Uproxx, 19 Mar. 2019,

Dvorsky, George. “These Unresolved Ethical Questions Are About to Get Real.” Io9, Gizmodo, 16 Dec. 2015,

Connor, Steve. “First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 2 Apr. 2020,

Cussins, Jessica. “What Clones Think of CRISPR and Other Highlights from the Final Season of Orphan Black.” Center for Genetics and Society, Biopolitical Times, 7 Aug. 2017,

2 thoughts on “Ethics of Genetic Modification”

  1. Edward, since this for today’s class, please go in and edit post to be “Revised” instead of “Draft” (even though it is your first submitted version). This will help us all to find it more easily during today’s post. Thanks!

  2. I feel that Edward has a clear idea in his proposal. From the first few sentences, it is clear the topic is the ethics of genetic modification. In the proposal, there are many questions asked, but there is no clear research question in your proposal. Some of the key terms Edward used included Gene modification, Cloning, speculative themes. These are very key terms relating to his topic. There could definitely be more key terms used to help address the research question and help relate it back to science fiction. I feel that based on what I read it does appear to be more about the topic of gene modification and less about the connection to science fiction. I feel with the right resources, it can be connected in a formal professional way that will be easy to present and explain. The sources need some work because there are no annotations and they are not in alphabetical order. I believe you need to have a minimum of 8 sources, so definitely do more research and restructure your sources. I feel that this proposal is more speculative than a summary of facts, but could be narrowed down a little more. My advice would be to narrow in on a specific topic related to gene modification and connect it more with science fiction.

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