Could Genetic Engineering Affect Evolution

The theory of evolution is more than just a theory about how humans came to be. Whether or not that part of the theory is correct does not have much of an influence on the underlying idea that life adapts. Throw in the concept of genetic engineering and evolution becomes even more unpredictable.

If genetic engineers can manipulate life, then the reality becomes what is perceived to be ideal. Dogs could be engineered to be the perfect pets with no barking, easy to train, or whatever traits are desired. This would vary greatly from owner to owner and as a whole would not drastically alter the evolution of pets. If all of the dogs were genetically altered to not bark excessively the result would look like evolution. The problem is that when all of the dogs are allowed to breed without genetic engineering, the barking trait has the possibility of mutating back.

People would always want desirable traits for their offspring. Traits that would promote healthy long fulfilled lives would be common amongst all parents. Beauty, intelligence, strength, and speed could all be engineered into the code to the point where everyone has super qualities. 

What would this do to evolution? Evolution could end up in hibernation for as long as the engineering takes place. If there is always a manufactured correction to the DNA, then there is no need for the natural process of evolution to take place. Perhaps evolution would learn what is ideal and less engineering would be required as time went on. In other words the results may or may not be permanent. With so many unknowns it is hard to say for sure.

What is known is that in the cases of genetic altering the results will be very different than what was started with. Genes are passed down depending on the parents’ genetic make-up. Even if both parents have all desirable traits their child could end up different. Evolution changes the genetic make-up by mutations that result from random environmental stimuli. The possibility to evolve would remain based on that abnormality.

The end result seems that genetic engineering would hamper evolution at best. Only because evolution would be irrelevant compared to the immediate results of genetic alterations. The engineer would correct any effort for evolution to take place. Genetic engineering could also be looked at as evolution on steroids. It may be forced but the result is definitely a change and although the effect is unpredictable, evolution is affected in any case by genetic engineering.