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It is easy to condemn the idea of genetic engineering on principle without stopping to realize that it is merely the acceleration of a process that occurs naturally.

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Introduction

It is easy to condemn the idea of genetic engineering on principle without stopping to realize that it is merely the acceleration of a process that occurs naturally. We are generally not attracted to ugly or unhealthy people because of our unconscious desire to have healthy, good-looking offspring. By choosing who to sleep with we are employing the same principle behind genetic engineering; it is just less reliable. This is merely a result of the principle of natural selection, but it is particularly apparent in the field of animal husbandry where new breeds can be created in just a few decades. In what way is altering the shape of a dog's head through selective breeding fundamentally different from modifying its genes directly? The latter process is actually less destructive to the breed in the long run because it does not encourage the degenerative conditions that often result from inbreeding. Still, there are many arguments against genetic engineering from moral, scientific, and religious viewpoints. I will address these issues and discuss some of the biological mechanisms behind them in the rest of this article. While advanced genetic engineering is not actually feasible at the moment, I am confident that we will someday be able to build the DNA sequencer from Jurassic Park, plug it into a computer, and design our children. Sperm banks will go out of business and men everywhere will complain that technology is taking away their jobs. I don't claim that we will ever be allowed to order our children C.O.D., but I am sure we will have the means to do it. ...read more.

Middle

The other type of mutation arises from a deliberate action of the human reproductive process. The chromosomes that make up our sex cells contain samplings of both our parents' genes in long strips. Occasionally, the dividing line between these sections occurs in the middle of the encoding of some important trait, causing unpredictable results. The general rule in genetics is 'use it or lose it'. While some mutations produce useful or benign results, the vast majority of them are harmful; natural selection is not only the driving force behind evolution, it is also the process that keeps our genes from decaying into randomness. Unfortunately, the luxuries of modern technology and medicine have altered the process of natural selection so that they are no longer on our side. Instead of favouring the physically fit or the mentally superior, nature now discriminates against the socially inept. Even this lofty barrier has not prevented humans from taxing the Earth's resources. But, because we have achieved unchallenged domination over the world, our race is weakening. After millions of years of living underground, mole rats have lost their ability to see. They still have eyes, but they are useless relics, the mole rat equivalent of wisdom teeth. When you think about how many people wear glasses you have to figure that our eyesight didn't used to be this bad in the times when we had to depend upon it for our survival. There are only three pro-active ways to counteract this downward trend: selective breeding (B.F. ...read more.

Conclusion

Obviously, this trait is normally suppressed somehow by the presence of the Y chromosome, probably because it is regulated by hormone levels inside the body. But, in a system as complicated as human sexuality, mutations are bound to occur. Some mutations might change hormone production levels; others might change the triggers that cause sexual attraction. So homosexuality is a mutation; should that change our attitudes? Blond hair is a mutation; there was no need for dark hair in northern climates so the genes that produced the pigment gradually eroded. But, reproductively speaking, homosexuality is unquestionably disadvantageous, so we should expect our bodies to have natural defense mechanisms. One of those mechanisms is guilt. Due to the natural erosion of our genes we are probably all a little bit bisexual, but hard-coded guilt (which can also be manifisted as hate) keeps most of us on nature's course. So that's the choice we must make. Genetic engineering offers us the chance to repair the defects in our bodies that pure reactive medicine cannot cure, but it also gives us limitless opportunities to modify the design of the human form: to be not only the parents of our children, but also their creators and their gods. Questions have already been raised about the use of genetic engineering to create new strains of vegetables that are resistant to disease; the debate surrounding modification of human DNA will be even more furious. Regardless, modern medicine, pesticide use in farming, and selective breeding have already caused us to stray from the 'natural path' of evolution. The question is... how far do we want to go? ...read more.

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