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The Moral, Ethical and Legal issues surrounding Genetic Engineering.

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Introduction

The Moral, Ethical and Legal issues surrounding Genetic Engineering Fatimah Jilani Genetic Engineering Genetic Engineering refers to the methods and results related with the alteration of the genetic or hereditary material carried by genes of an organism. These genes contain all the information, which needed to facilitate cells to replicate themselves. An example of genetic engineering is The Human Genome Project. This project, before 2005, will have mapped out the entire human genetic blueprint known as the genome. Its aim is to treat genetic disorders, such as Down's Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, etc. Research on the human genome can be done on aborted foetuses. Important areas of genetic research include genetic modification of crops (modification of plants and animals); Somatic-cell therapy (human genetic engineering); Germ-line therapy and Cloning. One of the main objectives of genetic research is to remove actual abnormalities present in human genes in order to get rid of serious and/or life-threatening handicaps. Genetic engineering techniques' include: * Selective breeding of plants/animals: - In selective breeding, only those plants or animals with desirable characteristics are selected for further breeding. ...read more.

Middle

Alongside all these advantages, there are great downfalls to genetic engineering. One of the common arguments against genetic engineering and in particular gene splicing. When Recombination DNA was introduced, there was a possibility and still is that genetically altered bacteria may escape from the laboratories and multiply causing erratic results. Public reaction to the use of recombinant DNA in genetic engineering has been mixed. The production of medicines using genetic engineering has generally been welcomed. However, critics of recombinant DNA fear that disease-producing organisms used in some experiments might develop extremely infectious forms that could cause worldwide problems. Environmentalists are concerned that the transgenic plants may interbreed with weeds, producing weeds with unwanted characteristics. They also argue that, due to natural selection, insects quickly develop resistance to plants that have been engineered to incorporate biological pesticides. Animal rights groups have argued that the production of transgenic animals is harmful to animals. For example genetically engineered fish raise problems because of the aptitude of fish to swim away from their place of source. Some experts fear that this may change the characteristics of wild fish in unpredictable ways (Guardian unlimited). ...read more.

Conclusion

This could cause a lot of emotional damage. Some argue that all human genetic engineering is 'tampering with nature.' Others say genetic engineering is a breach of the belief of 'letting nature take its course.' Genetic engineering is used for various aspects of our life such as increasing plant/animal food production; diagnosing diseases, improving our medical treatment; producing vaccines and useful drugs; and to help dispose of industrial wastes. There are great advantages to genetic engineering when used sensibly. Having said that there are possibilities that genetic engineering may be used for unnecessary purposes, which I strongly object to. For example, genetic engineering provides the ability to create an 'improved' human being with characteristics determined in accordance with a scientist's particular preconceived notion. This could lead to the categorization of people, those that have desirable characteristics and those that have inferior ones. This could cause a lot of needless emotional damage. This is just one example of circumstances that could occur when using genetic engineering inappropriately. I feel that in one sense that nature should take its natural course however I do believe that genetic engineering could be used to improve our quality of life i.e. in terms of health. ...read more.

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