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The Pros of Cons of Genetic Screening

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Introduction

The Pros of Cons of Genetic Screening Introduction The subject of genetic engineering has always been a controversial one, that has divided opinion for years, although in today's society it is more important than ever. Although the possibilities of genetic manipulation have been theorised as early as the 17th century and H. J. Muller was artificially mutating genes of Drosophila with x-rays in 1927, the experiment that really brought the possibilities of genetic engineering to public attention was Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, in 1996. Although the first IVF baby was born long before this, in 1978, the controversy that surrounds it is more relevant than ever, since this milestone in genetic history. Since then GM crops, human cloning and genetic screening have all been issues of concern not just for scientists and religious leaders, but by members of the public too. What is Genetic Screening? Genetic screening normally involves two processes IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) and PGD (Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis). In-vitro Fertilization basically involves uniting the egg and the sperm outside of the of the body. The fertilised embryo can then be transferred into the uterus and pregnancy can begin. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or at least it's future implications, is the more controversial of the two stages, and it involves analysing the cells of the embryos before they are transferred back into the woman for genetic disorders which could lead to inherited diseases. ...read more.

Middle

Of course, starting from the choice of sex in determining some quality of life, there is a dangerous potential for parents to choose embryos based on aesthetic qualities. While this is obviously morally wrong, there are currently very tight laws on genetics and it looks unlikely it will happen any time soon. Further more, part of a consultation carried out by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) showed that 69 per cent of Britons believed that unrestricted sex selection should not be allowed and that 80 per cent believed that PGD should not be allowed for non-medical reasons. Public Opinions of PGD and IVF. * Percent Who Agreed with the Statement "Reproductive Genetic Technology will Inevitably lead to Genetic Enhancement and Designer Babies." This is the hot topic right now, and it appears the majority really do believe that current technologies will go as far as designer babies. Interestingly, according to the report (Reproductive Genetic Testing: What America Thinks) , it is not the technologies that people fear, but human nature. "You're trying to get rid of this terrible burden on your children, but at the same time, I don't put as much faith in humanity, because people are greedy. I mean, we're just inherently greedy people and it's never going to be enough." ...read more.

Conclusion

What people don't realize, is that the chances of this government allowing Genetic Screening it to happen is low. Would they allow the creation of "better humans", in a world already populated with six billion 'average' people? Small changes like hair colour and sporting ability may be 'bought' in the future by a small minority, but I don't think it will ever be legal or commonplace. The medical benefits of this technology certainly outweigh these problems. I respect opinions of pro-life supporters, but I am looking at it at a scientific point of view, while they are looking at it from a religious one. No one can know for a fact when life begins and if they believe it begins at conception, then yes, discarding embryos is wrong. In my opinion eight cells is 'potential life', rather than life itself. I personally think the pros far outweigh the cons. As IVF is routinely used, PGD is just a 'safety valve'. The embryos are already out of the body, why not check them for possibly debilitating illnesses? Huntington's and cystic fibrosis can affect a persons whole life, and while I agree that it doesn't necessarily mean a lower quality of life, surely it's an obvious choice for the parent to make. As long as regulations remain tight and technology continues to improve I believe PGD will become more and more accepted as the positive results come out. ...read more.

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