By Jasmine Sufi
Elephants in the Twilight was a documentary I recently watched on the life and conservation of elephants around the globe.
It got me thinking of how similar we are to these peaceful animals.
They are incredibly social creatures that live in communities that protect their young and provide and care for the sick and injured. Their lives and memories are just as long as ours and the bonds created between them are lifelong.
What peaked my interest is one portion of the documentary that was tracking the impact humans had on the genetic pool of elephants in Africa. Poachers have been rampant for hundreds of years and, despite the legal implications, are still persistent today. Male elephants have been targeted and killed for their ivory tusks and for this reason more than 60 per cent of the male elephants being born today in Africa mature without a tusk.
A recessive trait causes these elephants to be born without a tusk. And due to human interference – poaching – more tuskless elephants are like to be born.
Environment has always played a large role in determining the path that evolution takes by ensuring survival of the fittest.
My thought process took me to our society today and our incredible use of science and medicine to improve our health, life and fertility. Surgery, chemotherapy and pharmaceutical drugs help to manage disease and prolong our lives. Artificial reproductive therapy (ART), through drug therapy, enables hundreds of thousands of families to have children where without this technology they may not have been able to have their families.
This technology is allowing couples that could not conceive to conceive and, in terms of biology, pass on their genes to another generation.
This is altering our genetic pool like those African elephants with the recessive gene that causes the lack of tusk.
In our case, we are propagating genes into our future generations with the use of ART that may not have otherwise survived.
This has and will change our genetic makeup as a whole, the extent of change will be a snapshot that will only be seen hundreds of years from now.
Another amazing development in ART that has given more opportunities to conceive is the use of donor eggs and sperm.
This enables both men and women who are unable to conceive due to lack of or poor quality of either eggs or sperm receive one or both from another individual.
In biological terms these donors are being given a genetic advantage enabling larger numbers of their genes into our future generations.
With the use of science and medicine, we are able to improve our health and lives in so many ways and with the use of ART we are now able to see, understand and control our fertility in a way that we have never been able to before.
Science is changing our lives now and is changing the destiny of our species as a whole.
Jasmine Sufi co-founded Acutoronto, a women’s health and fertility clinic in 2004. Her experience includes the Wasser Pain Management Centre, St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital and the Toronto Centre for Acupuncture and teaching experience at the Canada College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Jasmine specializes in fertility and pregnancy using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 416-486-5222 or visit www.acutoronto.com