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Moral and Ethical Issues Surrounding Genetic Engineering

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Introduction

MORAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES SURROUNDING GENETIC ENGINEERING Genetic engineering is a relatively new and rapidly developing technology. It has opened up infinitely limitless possibilities for influencing the genetic makeup of organisms. It can lead to many incredibly useful developments in the fields of medicine, agriculture, industry and conservation. However, it also has the potential to produce almost catastrophic problems. Genetic engineering is the transfer of a gene from one organism (the Donor) into another, (the Recipient). Logically, it can be anticipated that this modification would change the fundamental physical nature of the organism. Presently, a vast amount of genetic engineering is being used commercially in the field of agriculture to produce pest-resistant varieties of crops. As well as that, genetic engineering has been used in the medical field in the production of transformed bacteria containing genes for human proteins such as insulin and growth hormones to treat diseases. It has also been used for gene therapy intending to correct inherited diseases, DNA fingerprinting to identify suspects in police investigations and to produce animals that can be used to transplant organs into humans. ...read more.

Middle

The pro-science argument for the practice of this technique would be that gene therapy is the most reasonable and cost-effective way to treat most genetic diseases. Due to the fact that the ideal treatment would only need to be administered once- after that, the modification would be incorporated into the person's genome. They would also argue that gene therapy techniques promise to end or at least curb a vast amount of human suffering due to painful, debilitating, and sometimes fatal genetic diseases. The argument against this would undoubtedly be that gene therapy on humans, especially at a stage where we know so little about gene regulation, would amount to unethical experimentation on human subjects. However, one of the most controversial aspects of genetic engineering is the process of cloning. It all started in Scotland when scientists in an experiment, took a cell from the body of a lamb, nurtured it, and eventually grew it into a lamb physically identical to the original host. ...read more.

Conclusion

It has not been fully condoned by any religion either. With this type of new technology where the sky is the limit and anything is possible there will always be controversy, especially since unlike most other technologies, genetic engineering doesn't leave room for mistakes. Flaws in this technology cannot be fixed, but become the negative heritage to countless future generations. However, the National Human Genome Research Institute recognised that the information gained from mapping and sequencing the human genome would have profound implications for individuals, families, and society. While this information would have the potential to dramatically improve human health, they realised that it would also raise a number of complex ethical, legal and social issues. So the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Program was established as an integral part of the NHGRI. So even though there are many valid arguments both for and against the continuation of genetic engineering, and coming to a decision as to whether it should be allowed or not is very difficult, the question of where to draw the line between scientific discovery and playing God will still remain an issue. ...read more.

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