Biology /1st period
1 March 2012
Research: Genetic Engineering
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is the scientific alteration of the structure of genetic material in a living organism. It involves the production and use of recombinant DNA and has been employed to create bacteria that synthesize insulin and other human proteins.
Why is it used?
Genes influence health and disease, as well as human traits and behavior. Researchers are just beginning to use genetic technology to unravel the genomic contributions to these different phenotypes, and as they do so, they are also discovering a variety of other potential applications for this technology. For instance, ongoing advances make it increasingly likely that scientists will someday be able to genetically engineer humans to possess certain desired traits. Of course, the possibility of human genetic engineering raises numerous ethical and legal questions. Although such questions rarely have clear and definite answers, the expertise and research of bioethicists, sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists can inform us about how different individuals, cultures, and religions view the ethical boundaries for the uses of genomics. Moreover, such insights can assist in the development of guidelines and policies.
Why don’t we use it?
Trait selection and enhancement in embryos raises moral issues involving both individuals and society. First, does selecting for particular traits pose health risks that would not have existed otherwise? The safety of the procedures used for preimplantation genetic diagnosis is currently under investigation, and because this is a relatively new form of reproductive technology, there is by nature a lack of long-term data and adequate numbers of research