Human Genetic Manipulation
By Svetlana Levanova, 512 AE
Genes are working portions of DNA and the biological units of
heredity. Specific genes code for specific traits that are found in a given
organism. For example, one gene may code for eye color while another one
may code for shoe size. DNA is an extremely complicated biological system.
Many, if not most diseases stem from a defect in one's genetic code. There
are two ways for one to get a genetic defect or mutation. A mutation can be
inherited from one or both parents, or a genetic mutation can be acquired.
Gene therapy is the process by which cells are supplied with healthy
copies of missing, flawed, or desirable genes. Gene therapy can possibly be
a cure for the genetic mutations that are constantly occurring in nature.
There is a heated discussion in the society about both genetically modified
food and human gene engineering and the possible repercussion from them,
which we may be able to get only in a certain period of time.
Still this burning issue has arguments both in favor of and against
gene technology. The success of genetic manipulation will result in a
better quality of life for people. Nearly all diseases can potentially be
cured. Cancer will be wiped out, as cancer causing genetic defects will no
longer be a problem. As a result of genetic testing, risk prevention is
also a benefit. If I find that I am genetically inclined to have a heart
attack, I can reshape my habits around my genetic dispositions. Or, if I
know that I have a recessive gene for a disease, I will know not to have a
child by another person with that gene. Also we get more than just medical
benefits. If it is found out that genes are responsible for the work of the
mind, than who is to say that someday people won't be able to endow their
children with certain qualities. Many see this as an advantage. Before my
child is even conceived, I can give him brown hair, green eyes, 6 feet in
height and an intellect to match! In a nutshell, the benefits are long
lives, less disease and tailored children.
As for the arguments against gene technology, there are many ethical
and religious reasons against gene manipulation. Many say that it will be
an invasion of one's genetic privacy. Once the technology becomes
widespread, genetic testing will be mandated, and genetic information will
have to be disclosed. Many people don't want to know about their own
genetic destiny, let alone allow others to know. The fact that genetic
information may one day become easily accessible leads to the possibility
of genetic discrimination and violation of genetic privacy. People can most
certainly be judged and oppressed on the basis of genetic information as
well as skin color. Why should I hire a man who has a genetic risk of
developing heart disease? Why should I offer him insurance?
Many people feel that genetic technology will have organizational
problems. For example, that the practice will be poorly regulated and that
people can do as they please with developing genetic engineering. Also, it
is feared that this new technology will be available only to the wealthy,
for their own benefit and exploitation. People fear also the fact that
genetically modified humans will decrease the diversity of the human
species, which will make the human population susceptible to diseases. This
is a far-fetched notion, but the possibility exists. Finally, it is feared
that creating new types of people is undermining God's natural order. Just
as above it was stated as a benefit, many also view having the power to
"select" your child as a problem. They feel the humans should not have the
power to create a child like it is some sort of machinery. Life should be
held in higher regard than that.
Human curiosity and innovation will always manage to conjure up some
sort of scientific breakthrough. Genetic manipulation is no exception. Like
all new technologies, it has its pros and cons that must be weighed. The
potential for reward and for disaster are both great in this issue. With
sufficient regulation and responsibility, the benefits of genetic
manipulation can far outweigh the drawbacks. It is a situation that must be
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