In the 21st century, genetics will dominate our food, our health, and our environment. Scientists are now talking about the latest taboo on the horizon, hand picking the genes of our children. The questions arise everywhere from society. Have we gone too far with the human genome project? Do we risk creating children as a medical commodity? Could it ultimately lead to parents demanding genetically-engineered offspring with good looks, intelligence, or athletic abilities? It is my position, from a practical medical perspective, that although this research has much potential, the adverse effects outweigh the positive gains. When this research is used under the motives of cosmetics, it will adversely affect our society and the human race as a whole. Presented in this paper are the types of genetic engineering, their purposes, their potential, and the controversy of this research.
There are two main types of genetic engineering. Somatic modifications involve adding genes to cells other than egg or sperm cells. For example, if a person had a disease caused by a defective gene, a healthy gene could be added to the affected cells to treat the disorder. The distinguishing characteristic of somatic engineering is that it is non-inheritable, meaning the new gene would not be passed to the recipient’s offspring. Germline engineering would change genes in eggs, sperm, or very early embryos. This type of engineering is inheritable, meaning that the modified genes would appear not only in any children that resulted from the procedure, but in all succeeding generations. This application is by far the more consequential as it could open the door to the perpetual and irreversible alteration of the human species.
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...nd being able to pick a child and their specific gene should not be allowed. Those who would have their children engineered for cosmetic purposes should not be allowed to do so. There needs to be more public discussion of the issues. Many express unease about genetically redesigning our children by saying that we should not play God. These concerns may have more to do with the ‘playing’ than with the ‘God’ part. Should we be manipulating human biology and society like this? Technically and socially, do we know what we would be doing? The possibilities of physical changes are endless, as are the reprecussions.
Brownlee, Shannon. “Designer Babies.” Washington Monthly, March 2002
Flam, Faye. “The Ethics of Having a Baby For Another Childs Benefit.” Philadelphia Inquirer Oct 2000
Silver, Lee, Professor and Geneticist, Princeton University. Frontline, PBS.
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