Steve Denton Essays

Submitted By destructionpro
Words: 1207
Pages: 5

Problems Created and Solutions Found in Human Genetic Engineering When the topic of cloning, stem cell research, or gene manipulation arises, most people hold a strong opinion about the ethics of such practices. Those opinions tend to be informed by the person’s beliefs about what human life is and what it should be. Questions such as, “Is it ethical to ‘play God’ and control the development of human beings that would otherwise be determined by chance or inherited traits?” often elicit an immediate knee-jerk response of “Absolutely!”, or “Absolutely not!” based on the religious or ethical guidelines upon which one lives. This is an important question indeed, but one that needs to be thoughtfully considered given the weight of its consequences. Under the umbrella of genetic engineering, there are the reproductive cloning, embryonic stem cell, and gene manipulation/doping technologies that generate the most debate. Genetic engineering as defined by Oxford Dictionaries is “the deliberate modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material.” As a society, we must examine the positive and negative that can come as a result of such a practice on humans and discuss laws and guidelines that would prevent otherwise avoidable ethical follies.
Cloning technology is being studied in two different lights; therapeutic and reproductive. Reproductive cloning is the process of duplicating a living person who has the exact DNA of the forebearer. Many countries have essentially closed the book on reproductive cloning by banning it, as well as UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declaring that the practice is, “contrary to human dignity.” (Savelescu 18) Therapeutic cloning, otherwise known as embryonic stem cell research however, shows promise of more practical medical advances. This technology uses cloning to create stem cells, tissues, and organs and may one day find the cure for Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injury. It is capable of producing whole organs to be used for transplant since, “it is thought that the cells are able to morph into virtually any tissue in the body.” (Stein 1) Alas, therapeutic cloning is not immune to ethical concern, particularly regarding the fact that embryos must be created and destroyed in the process. (Stein) While many opponents consider an embryo to be the equivalent of a person, some scientists argue that there is a moral imperative to this research based on the overwhelming benefits. (Savelescu)
Even technologies that are already used today fall under ethical scrutiny such as in-vitro fertilization, where due to the “wasted” embryos that are not selected for implantation, it is seen to be morally wrong by some advocacy groups. By using preimplantation genetic diagnosis, tests can be conducted to identify certain genes that are disease causing or high-risk, giving the parents the choice to leave those embryos out during selection. While this technology may have the potential to eliminate certain genes for illness altogether, there are also the realities that other disorders may be identified that are recessive or untreatable. Such a discovery has the potential to cause the individual undue psychological strain or, in some cases, has served as some sense of relief for the patient from otherwise not knowing his or her future. (Simmons)
There are people who fear the misuse of genetic technology, and those fears can now be somewhat validated by a practice that is becoming more common, known as gene doping. This practice is derived from gene therapy, which transplants normally functioning genes to cells where such genes are missing or damaged. Some athletes and their doctors, in an effort to work around current restrictions of performance enhancing drugs, are utilizing this technology. Aside from the unfair competitive edge, these genetic alterations have no way of being tested with the current technology. With lack of