Genetic Engineering Essay, Research Paper
1 June, 2000
As we begin the twenty first century, many new technological advancements make themselves readily available to us. One such technological advancement is genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is the altering of human genes in order to perfect these genes, or change them completely. This new technology is very controversial, because it deals with things such as altering our own mortality and perhaps creating the ?perfect human race.? Some people however, feel that gene altering is a wonderful new prospect because it may allow us to prevent certain disease, and thus increase our life spans. Also, those that are for genetic engineering, believe that by choosing the genes we wish our children to have we will be able to correct certain birth defect and make everyone happy and healthy.
The discovery of the ability to manipulate human genes first came with the development of the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project is a worldwide research setup to analyze the structure of human DNA, and also to locate all human genes, which in number are estimated to be as many as one hundred thousand (Intro to the World of Genome). The goal of this project is to locate the genome, or the complete set of instructions for making a human being. It is believed in the future that this process will be helpful in curing diseases. It was out of this project that the idea for gene manipulation arose, and the controversy over whether we, as mere human beings, had the right to manipulate the genes of the human body, to prevent genetic disorders and prolong life (Intro to the World of Genome).
Advocates of gene altering feel that this new technology is beneficial to human life for two main reasons. First, these people feel that using the technology of gene altering to ?design their own children? is beneficial because they will be able to perfect their genes and prevent them from being handicap from disease and disorders (Golden). Through the use of gene manipulation, such diseases as Down Syndrome can be prevented. By choosing the genes that their children will have, parents can be sure that their children will not be born with genetic disease, thus the human race will be much healthier.
Another reason that supporters of gene manipulation believe that it is a worthwhile technology, is because they feel that in the future, when all of the genomes are discovered that we will be able to cure such diseases as diabetes and cancer. They believe that through use of genetic screening and gene altering that we will not only be able to prevent these disease before birth, but also cure them at a later stage. By adding healthy genes from one organism to the unhealthy genes of another organism, it is believed that this process, called somatic cell therapy, will be able to correct hundreds of genetic disorders, ranging from heart disease to cancer (Frantz). It is believed by those in favor of this technology, that by correcting genes in postnatal (already born) organisms, we might be able to cure such deadly diseases and thus prolong life for the human race.
While this may seem to present a bright new future to all of mankind, there are still several protests to this new technology. Many people feel that by manipulating genes, we are playing God, or taking over the role of Mother Nature. Critics feel that by manipulating genes, we are going against God, and his plan for each individual person. Opponents of this new technology feel that by manipulating a person?s genes we are going against God, and his divine plan (Gardner).
Another reason many people oppose genetic engineering is because they fear that someone will attempt to create a super race, by manipulating genes. Many people are still devastated by the actions of Adolph Hitler, and his attempt to create a superior human race of blond hair, blue-eyed children. With the new technology of genetic engineering, this could be possible. In the future, it is believed that we will be able to choose the hair, eye, and skin color of our children, if this is possible, then it would be completely logical to fear such a thing as gene altering. Opponents of genetic engineering fear that the power to alter physical characteristics could become dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. People are afraid that another leader will rise up, and with this new technology create one super race, and destroy all that do not conform to certain characteristics just as Hitler attempted to do decades earlier (Gardner).
A third concern of opponents of genetic engineering is the belief that if people are able to choose the sex of their baby, then one species will come to dominate. If this did occur, as some fear, then perhaps nearly everyone would choose to have boys instead of girls. If this were so, then our species would gradually become extinct because there would not be any females left to produce offspring.
Another fear of those opposed to genetic engineering is the idea that by possessing the power to expand, or even create eternal life, our world will become overpopulated. Opponents of this new technology fear that if we increase the lifespan we will soon, not only run out of area to live on our planet, but also out of food and other resources. Our planet is already overpopulated, and some believe that by increasing the lifespan we will be forced to create more places for people to live, which will further diminish the land we have for farmlands, and thus we will not be able to produce enough food for our over populated world.
Finally, many people fear that through use of genetic engineering and genetic screening, people will be denied their right to privacy. With the discovery of the genome (a person?s gene sequence) their traits could be easily accessed by the wrong people and used in improper ways. People fear that this new discovery of gene manipulation could mean that in the future only those with superior DNA will be given good jobs, and able to get ahead in life. By being able to gain access to a person?s DNA, many people fear that there will be much discrimination against those that have less than perfect genes, and that by allowing this information to be easily accessed we are being denied are right to privacy (Kinsley).
In my own opinion, I feel that manipulating the genes of human beings is ethically wrong. I do not feel that we should grant ourselves the power to play God. I think that we all have a set plan laid out ahead of us, and to interfere with this plan would be blasphemous.
I also believe that if we were able to cure such deadly diseases as cancer and heart disease, that we would prolong life, and thus create a vastly overpopulated world. Although the prospects of saving human life through science seems to be a wonderful thing, I feel that by extending human life to such a vast degree could lead to huge problems such as famine and lack of housing. I feel that by unnaturally prolonging life we would be adding to our already existing problem of overpopulation, and would be creating a world where there is no room for farmland or state parks, and where people are starving to death due to lack of food.
In all, I feel that while this new technology holds many seemingly wonderful cures, many problems will follow due to lack of respect to the natural order of things. I believe that it is both ethically and morally wrong to go against God?s natural plan and change a destiny that was already laid out. I also feel that doing such could lead to disaster for the human race due to problems caused by overpopulation and starvation. I believe that it is ethically wrong for man to feel that he has the power to play God, and I feel that this omnipotent attitude will cause the human race many difficulties in the near future.
Gardner, William. ?Can Human Genetic Enhancement be prohibited.?
Golden, Fredric. ?Good Eggs, Bad Eggs.? Time Magazine. 11 January, 1999.
?Intro to the World of Genome.? http://www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~s95633yc/
Kinsley, Michael. ?Oh My Aching Genes.? Time Magazine. September 29, 1997.