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The moral and ethical implications of Gene Technology.

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Introduction

The moral and ethical implications of Gene Technology (1000 words) - Economic view (Financial) Advantages & Disadvantages - Social view - Environmental view Genetic research has advanced in a dramatic fashion in the last decade or so, to the point where it has become possible to attempt genetic modification, in a few cases of human genes where a defect manifests itself into certain serious diseases. This possibility known as gene therapy is only in its infancy. At present no-one knows how effective it will prove to be, and even on a few conditions on which it has been tried - whether it will only be of relatively limited application, or whether it will be open to a wider number of possibilities. It suffers both over- optimistic claims and exaggerated dangers from others. It is not possible to assert exactly where the possibilities opened up by todays technology will lead in terms of future developments, but various ethical and moral concerns are implicit in the technology. These are important to draw to attention before gene technology enhances further. ...read more.

Middle

Some critics of genetically modified crops seem unperturbed by the fact that widely used pharmaceutical products are also genetically engineered. Some people argue that genetically modifying crops is trying to 'play God' but fail to raise similar objections to techniques used to produce insulin, human growth hormone and many commonly used drugs. The possibility that we might see an increase in the number of allergic reactions to food as a result of genetic engineering has a powerful emotional appeal because many of us experienced this problem before the advent of transgenic crops. In other words, someone who is allergic to peanuts might suffer a reaction after consuming transgenic soybeans that had been modified by the insertion of the peanut gene that produces the allergic reaction. Since very few genes produce harmful compounds, the risk of this happening is extremely low. And even if an inserted gene were to result in production of a harmful compound, the chances of it ever reaching the consumer are negligible, considering the rigorous food safety tests that all new products (including GMOs) ...read more.

Conclusion

Alongside all the benefits of this latest technology there are social and financial issues involved as if genetic cloning of genes becomes available in the future availability of information about a person's genes may tempt health insurance companies to impose higher premiums or even refuse coverage to those whose genetic inheritance makes them vulnerable to illness. Clearly these policies would amount to discrimination, and hence would be morally objectionable. Genetics, like any other technology, is not morally problematic itself. It is our grasp of moral principles and our reluctance to take them seriously when inconvenient, which is the real problem. Until recently, there were few ethical, social or legal discussions about gene technology, since the scientific consensus was that such a procedure was not biologically possible. With the appearance of Dolly, it now seems that human cloning will become feasible but we may doubt that the practise will come into widespread use. Human genetic engineering will be applicable to a wide variety of traits, it will be more powerful than cloning, and hence more attractive to more people. It will also however, raise more troubling questions than the prospect of cloning has thus far. Ranjeeta Khalsa 12A ...read more.

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