Genetics Blha Essay, Research Paper
Genetic Engineering and its Future Impacts on Society
Genetic Engineering, the process of editing the genetic structure of a living organism, is most likely the most power science in existence. With this technology one can literally create life, change life, and formulate life to service the creator. Genetic Engineering is the most useful, powerful, and interesting science in existence today. With it, we can bring upon an evolution of our species which we decide, eliminate genetic defects, cure disease and solve problems with extinct species.
When it comes to using this Technology to advance ourselves, there are some arguments and reservations certain people and groups have. First, and most important some believe it is unethical to modify life. Changing life to service us is not morally wrong. It is not inhuman either. Of course, if you believe using animals for scientific research is morally wrong that’s your belief, I am stating that genetically enhancing them to be better research specimens is not unethical. My reason behind this is that we don’t just do research in order to infect and kill off the mice, we do it so one day we will have a cure for cancer and can save hundreds of thousands of human lives. Of course if you value the life of a mouse over a human then you would see differently. Some fear that this science is too powerful, granted we shouldn’t let just anyone be able to modify bacteria, or the human genome, but we shouldn’t let our fears blind us to the possible benefits of wide-scale genetic engineering.
Medical uses for this technology are virtually endless. With genetics we can filter out any genetic defect, no more down-syndrome, mal-deformed limbs, hereditary cancer, or any other hereditary diseases. With Genetics we can also re-engineer virus to kill other virus and bacteria. Imagine curing a disease with another, that was tweaked by geneticists. Also mental diseases which are often hereditary will also be eliminated. We could also use genetics to enhance our immune system making us less susceptible to other disease strains, but this will be better discussed further on. This powerful new science will allow doctors to cure so much of the worlds sick, to not allow this science to be applied to medicine could be viewed as genocide.
In Agriculture genetics can also become extremely useful. We can enhance plants to make them resistant to disease which wipe out so many crops annually. We could also engineer virus that can be implanted into the plants that would kill off bugs or other creatures that attack the plants. This would eliminate the need for pesticides and other harmful chemical forms of getting rid of pests. Genetics can also be used to enhance crop yield which would allow for farmers to bring in double what they are getting now. This effect would drop plant-based food prices allowing for more hungry children to be able to eat daily. We can also engineer plants to be more versatile allowing for growth of certain types of plants in areas where they normally wouldn’t be able to grow. This would also allow for more food globally.
Another benefit of using genetics on plants is we can have them produce natural enzymes that fight or cure disease. This is a cheap, inexpensive way to produce effective medicine on a wide scale. Making powerful medicines available to the public at a low price. There is no reason why we shouldn’t allow ourselves the benefit on the usage of this technology on agriculture it would help our society in so many ways.
Other use of genetics is that in animals. With genetics and gene therapy we are able to make animal, namely the pig, organs similar enough to human organs as to be transplantable. Again you could counter this with the same argument used in using mice as cancer subjects, but like I mentioned before unless you value animal life more then human life you basically have no argument. We can also use genetics to breed healthier, meatier animals allowing for more healthier meat-based food on the international market. We can also clone these animals allowing for more healthier food on the international market. This would drop the price of food, again helping eliminate the staving people in today’s society.
One truly amazing use for genetics is using it to restore what past society’s have destroyed. We can clone species which humans had with all our pollution or deforestation, destroyed. This would fix the whole problem with extinct species and endangered species, the problem would simply not exist over time. We can also use genetics to breed trees that grow faster then normal which would allow for the repopulating of the rain forests which are being destroyed daily by paper and farming industries. If we were to deny the usage of this technology to restoration of extinct species, we would be no better then the societies that destroyed them.
Cloning is another genetic related topic, it was discussed in some of the most famous science fiction novels of this century. But ever since Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned the question on everyone’s mind is “What’s Next?” Cloning animals is useful, and highly so, as discussed prior, we can do so in order to restore extinct species or produce animals which we consume in order to provide more food for the people of the world. The big question now is about cloning humans. Cloning a human for the purpose of cloning a human is wasteful, ignorant, and pointless. Lets think a moment. What do we get from cloning a human An exact copy of the human we cloned. Now if everyone on the world had a clone we would have a slight overpopulation problem on our hands. You simply don’t benefit from cloning other then getting a duplicate of the person you copied. Its a waste of resources which could be better allocated to the already over-populated world and shouldn’t be condoned.
Last, and provably the most controversial issue in genetics is using its great power to enhance or better the human genome. This technology is most feared because of this reason, What happens when we toy with nature’s best creation, humans. Well I will explain each of the possible uses for this technology in relation to the human being, they being; enhance intellect, life span, metabolism, eliminate the condition of being overweight, retardation, hereditary defects or disease, birth marks, being ugly or unattractive, emotional disorders, and depression.
First enhancement of our species. Just think of a world were everyone thought before they acted. Think of how much less crime would occur. No more rash decisions based on pure emotion, significantly less street and bar fights, less need for gangs, less people on drugs. When you enhance the intellect of a person you give them clarity of thought. With this clarity comes so much more for the society he or she lives in. We could also use this to enhance the life span of certain individuals, say we want to set up a colony on a distant planet and it would require a long trip. We could genetically enhance the life span of the members of the crew allowing them to complete their mission. Now I would not recommend the usage of this on the general population because you would have the overpopulation problem, not so much as with cloning but the population would still grow rapidly.
Enhancing our metabolism is another advancement that we can make. With this comes the elimination of being overweight, we could literally eat 3,000 calories a day and not gain a pound because our bodies would burn it off so fast. The only side effect of this is that we would have to consume a lot in order to perform activities which involve a high amount of activity. But this would only effect those who perform seriously strenuous jobs on a daily basis.
We could also enhance our immune system making ourselves more resistant to disease and bacteria. Genetically enhance our strength making us physically stronger then we are now (in general).
We can also fix the problem people have with their appearances, being too fat, too skinny or ugly. All gone with genetics. The problem people have with this is that it induces conformity and eliminates individuality. This is not so. Take a beauty pageant for example. All the women there are different, and yet all considered to be attractive.
Lastly we can control the evolution of our species. We can determine how we wish our species to evolve. Using genetics we can give ourselves enhancements that would allow us to live longer, better lives. We can fix problems with society and cease the injustices that occur on a daily basis to millions of people in the world. It would be a crime against ourselves, our species, and all that past society’s have worked for to not use this technology to better ourselves.
In conclusion, genetic engineering has so many benefits, namely in medicine, agriculture, farming, species restoration, and human betterment. To tell society that because certain groups have reservations and so we aren’t using this technology would be a crime against that society itself. To hide behind religion and say “God didn’t mean it to be this way.” Would be a sad uninformed decision based on emotion and faith rather then science and fact. It is illogical to say it is unethical in that with genetics we can benefit so many suffering from disease, starvation, poverty, crime, and other down falls of society. It is true, by using Genetics we will be in effect “Playing God” however, let us compare the role of God to a throne. With this technology we are being offered this throne. To deny ourselves that which we have always searched for, yearned for and want, to better ourselves, would be the most horrendous, conceded, selfish arrogant and cowardly act in the history of our existence. How can we say no?
Genetic Engineering, the process of editing the genes, or the basic make-up of a living organism is an extremely powerful technology. We are on the verge of using this technology to better ourselves, it is our distinct duty as members of the human race to better that of which we belong, with Genetic Engineering, we can.
Regenerating extinct species, engineering babies that are born without vital body organs, this is what the use of genetic engineering brings to the world.
In Greek myth, an chimera was a part lion, part goat, part dragon that lived in Lycia; in real life, it s an animal customized with genes of different species. In reality, it could be a human-animal mixture that could result in horror for the scientific community. In myth the chimera was taken down by the warrior Bellerophon, the biotech version faces platoons of lawyers, bioethicists, and biologists (Hager).
In this paper, I am going to discuss what has already been done, the unethical side of genetics, and what will happen in the future if we continue to tinker. Genetics pose a major problem to the modern day world. With the deteriorating conditions of the earth today, the use of genetics will further break down our fragile planet.
As of 1998, many experiments have been done in the field of genetics, in the next section, I will discuss a few.
First, genetics came into the public view in the early 1970 s when a scientist named Paul Berg began experimenting with a strain of E.coli bacteria called SV40. (Tagliaferro 69) This was the public beginning to the struggle surrounding genetics. Berg was not very intelligent about the way he conducted his tests, and he was forced to stop, until the National Institute of Health determined that SV40 was harmless to humans. (Tagliaferro 70)
The next major happening in genetics was the Asilomar Conference of 1973. The Asilomar conference was a good start, but it did not set strict enough standards for experimentation, and this caused many harsh, and disruptive experiments. Then in 1975, the second Asilomar conference was held. This conference helped a little, but it still left to much gray area for scientists to play in. (Tagliaferro 70) The Asilomar Conference were a gigantic step forward, but they still left the scientists with to much freedom. The government should have taken control of the industry when it had the chance, but it let the chance slip through its fingers.
After the Asilomar conferences, there were no major advancements until the early 1990 s. In the early 1990 s private companies began experimenting with plants, and pesticides. They modified the plants, and then marketed them as better foods. In 1991 the Food and Drug administration took the products off the market for examination. They deemed the foods to be fine for human consumption (Levine). These new wonder plants were supposed to produce more crops, and use less space, but in reality they only produced an average of 3-5 percent more, and they used the same amount of space as the original plants. The downside to these genetically engineered plants was the pesticides that must be applied to maintain them; some of these if not applied right can cause illness, or even be fatal to certain people.
There were a few small advancements from 1991 to 1997, when a group of British scientists cloned Dolly the sheep. The scientists used part of the original animals DNA, and they expanded upon it to where they had the animal s entire genetic make-up. This procedure shocked the world, in being it was the first known successful cloning. This experiment raised eyebrows, and it upset many people because of the moral lines it crossed. If we can clone sheep, why don t we clone super humans? This question outraged many, and excited many others. In the United States, human cloning is controlled by teach state government, but on a whole, the majority of the states have outlawed cloning experiments, and for good reason. Cloning is a dangerous area that if not controlled properly could result in the end of the human race, as we now know it. Stuart Newman, a cell biologist at New York Medical College has applied for a patent on ways to make human-animal chimeras. Newman doesn t want to do it. He just wants to make sure no one else does, either (Hager).
Second, there are many concerns that surround the field of genetic engineering. These concerns range from moral, to environmental, and the ethics that are involved. These concerns have a lot of backing, and are very severe.
There are about three moral concerns that surround all genetics, they are; what to do with a mistake, can genetic creatures be patented, and are the things that are made free to live, or should they be contained for experimentation.
First, what happens if a geneticist makes a mistake? Well, there are a few options kill it, let it live in a confined area, or let it roam free. All of these options are bad in one way or another. First, if you kill the mistake, you have wasted time, money, and a life. This is the most scorned option of all three. Next, if you let it live in a confined area, you are depriving it of all the basic frills of life. What kind of life is it to be confined in a small cell with no outside excitement? The last option for geneticists is to let the thing live, and go on with its life as normal. This option provides even more ethical questions, so it is shunned by many. Many times the mistakes may not be well equipped for life in the real world. They may not be equipped for the stress of human life.
The next issues are over the rights, and what rights the creators have. While the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery can be interpreted as supporting all life, and denying who or what ever made them the right to control them (Goldberg). According to the 13th amendment the creature should have the rights of an American citizen, and the creator would have no control over it. This exception would help total human clones, but what if it was a human-animal chimera? Would it have rights, or would it be an animal? The whole situation is murky, I hope that we never come to a point where we have to answer these questions, but only time will tell.
The last moral concern is what should happen with the created being? The answer is usually that it should be kept for studying, and experimentation. This option denies the being the right to any sort of meaningful existence. Many are against this, they say that it denies the common liberties of life, and is inhumane. Both reasons are true, and they present strong points of interest.
The environmental concerns are obvious. The earth is deteriorating rapidly, and it could not support some of the larger creatures of years past, but still geneticts try to do the impossible (Bryan). Time, after time we see movies, and things that portray dinosaurs coming back from extinction. These portrayals are actually quite real, in the world today, the technology exists, and the DNA is available. If dinosaurs and other large extinct animals were brought back, the earth would falter, and the human race would be facing a grave future. In the future, we should devise plans for what to do with what we create before we create it.
There are many ethical concerns that have arisen over the past five to seven years. Two examples are, is what about being humane, and what about religion? The issues have risen, and people have tried to answer them. I will also try to answer these to questions in depth.
First, humane is defined as marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals. (Reiss) Many believe that being humane is one of the basic responsibilities of life. Others believe that it is something that should be practiced, but only at certain times. Humanity is something that should be practiced regularly, but if we genetically engineer animals or humans, how can we be humane, we are messing with the way a creature is made, and how it behaves. How can humanity be extended to creatures that we have created? I don t feel that it can be done. Since 1993, geneticists have been experimenting with sheep, and their wool production. Geneticists have modified the DNA of as many as five different breeds of sheep. The genes of these sheep were modified to produce help produce more wool (Genetics). Now, how is this humane, we manipulate the genes of animals to better meet the needs of the human race. This is not right. These sheep were not intended to have thick coats, and now they face greater risk of heat related deaths. More over, would we like it if we were being changed and manipulated into living a certain way? I don t believe so, so why don t we start treating things the way we want to be treated? Well, there are a few more issues that come along with humanity, product testing, and when should humanity be implied. First, if an animal is used for product testing, it is looked down upon, but what would happen when companies used genetically engineered animals to test? These genetically engineered animals should be treated the same as all other animals, and they should actually be acted better towards. They should be acted better towards, because we do not know what their bodies, or minds can take. They are fragile creatures, because they have been modified for what humans believe is right, but we do not know the rigors of an animals everyday life, they mainly rely on their natural instincts to act, if we modify them, we might damage their functioning.
The second ethical issue is important in most people s eyes. Seventy-five percent of the world s people say they believe in a higher being. Well, if they believe in this so called higher being, how can they live knowing that there are people in this world that are trying to bypass him, and play god themselves. I believe in god, and I do not see how people can actually let this go on. I could not live with myself, if I tried to be above the man himself, it is very disheartening to hear what goes on in this world.