The Cause and Effects of Gene Manipulation

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In a society where high status is based on appearances, people in that higher status must have designer clothes, designer cars and soon designer babies. This means, in the future, the privileged will be able to pick their child's eye color, hair color and I.Q. Even determining certain aspects of personality can be as simple, as a trip to the doctor's office. As unreal as this seems, this phenomenon, is coming in the not so distant future. Despite opposition, scientists are coming closer and closer to human gene manipulation. It should even be perfected in the next ten to fifteen years. In fact, gene manipulation for more simple organisms is already commonly practice.

Gene manipulation in modern society

Genetic manipulation was first introduced in agriculture. It is used to insure insect resistance and allows farmers to grow more crops in a shorter amount of time. Also, because of an increase in population, the use for genetic mutation has begun to grow. There are just too many insects and weeds to obtain a maximum amount of crops.

However, gene manipulation has a number of consequences. Food manipulation through genetic engineering can become a dangerous and even a toxic substance for the metabolism causing new allergens in foods that previously were naturally safe. For example, a manipulated bacteria used to produced large quantities of a dietary supplement, triptophane, caused 27 deaths and 1.500 disabilities in the United States (in 1992)

Methods of genetic manipulations

In 1973, scientist discovered that it is possible to combine genetic material into different organisms. By taking certain genes from one animal and putting them into another, you can produce an animal that has characteristics from both. For example, scientist took the gene that produces horns from a goat and injected it into a lamb. The lamb later began to grow horns. When you inject a gene from an animal that prevents certain human diseases into a human, the gene protects the human from getting the disease as well.

This method, however, does have its disadvantages. It is unpredictable whether the immune system will actually take the gene or that the gene will land in the right place. The gene could land randomly along the cells chromosome, causing it to work poorly or not at all. It might even land in the middle of another essential gene, crippling it or even killing if off.

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Another method is a kind of cut and paste approach. Instead of taking a gene from another living being, scientists will make a sort of upgraded gene. The "bad genes" are then extracted and the advanced ones are put in its place.

Unfortunately, this method is not fully perfected either. It's common that the body will reject these new genes. When the body finds something new, the immune system most likely to attacks it. Also disturbing certain genes can cause the body to shut down. The body can't function when something is missing. So unless the gene can be replace in time, the result is bodily shut down, which can cause sever brain damage.

The last method is one scientists most prefer. Adding genes and leaving the original set alone is much safer. To do this, the scientist would have to build an artificial chromosome. Then, instead of the body having a gene of its own, it would carry a pair of genes made to change or develop a certain characteristic or health issue. Of course these extra sets of genes would be able to pass from one generation to the next. This would leave future generations with their normal chromosomes and the extra pairs. A human body is only meant to have 23 chromosomes; this method would result in way to many.

Nevertheless, scientists are working on a way to prevent this from happening. They are trying to make these genes only available during childhood. When the owner becomes an adult and is ready to have children, the extra pairs of chromosomes will simply disappear. However, this is not simplistic and reality is much harder then its sounds.

Causes from gene manipulation

Gene manipulation, also called human germline engineering, refers to the egg and the sperm. Scientists plan to change to genetic make up of a person at the moment of conception. Although, this mutation can go as far as certain human attributes like appearance and personality, scientist reassure the public that it will only be used to prevent disease.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't work this way. In countries like Canada or Great Britain, the science of genetic engineering is more widely accepted. Of course, this type of research requires large sums of money. This circumstance would lead to certain parents paying for this research and then using it on a child of their own.

According to researcher Princeton Silver, this will cause an even larger gap between classes. There will be those who can afford the designer chromosome and those who are left with natural selection.

Furthermore, societies that favor boys over girls, like China or India, are already out of balance. This will definitely cause a distortion in human population and possibly gender-role stereotypes in modern society.

Conclusion

Overall, is society really ready for such huge leaps in human biology? Changing natural selection and nature its self, can come with serious consequences. As Tuft Krimskys says, "We know where to start." The harder question is this: "do we know where to stop?"


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