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Genetic Engineering

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Genes are, basically, the blueprints of our body which are passed down from generation to generation. Through the exploration of these inherited materials, scientists have ventured into the recent, and rather controversial, field of genetic engineering. It is described as the "artificial modification of the genetic code of a living organism", and involves the "manipulation and alteration of inborn characteristics" by humans (Lanza). Like many other issues, genetic engineering has sparked a heated debate. Some people believe that it has the potential to become the new "miracle tool" of medicine. To others, this new technology borders on the realm of immorality, and is an omen of the danger to come, and are firmly convinced that this human intervention into nature is unethical, and will bring about the destruction of mankind (Lanza).

Although humans have altered the genomes of species for thousands of years through artificial selection and other non-scientific means, the field of genetic engineering as we now know it did not begin until 1944 when DNA was first identified as the carrier of genetic information by Oswald Avery Colin McLeod and Maclyn McCarty (Stem Cell Research). In the following decades two more important discoveries occurred, first the 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA, by Watson and Crick, and next the 1973 discovery by Cohen and Boyer of a recombinant DNA technique which allowed the successful transfer of DNA into another organism. A year later Rudolf Jaenisch created the world’s first transgenic animal by introducing foreign DNA into a mouse embryo, an experiment that would set the stage for modern genetic engineering (Stem Cell Research). The commercialization of genetic engineering began largely in 1976 wh...

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...ould hold and how it could possibly change our very existence in just a matter of years.

Works Cited

Anderson, Ryan. "Stem Cells: A Political History." First Things. First Things, November, 2008. Web. 10 Feb 2012.

"Eugenics, Genetic Engineering Lite." The Future of Human Evolution. Humans Future, 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2012.

Lanza, Tyler. "The Stem Cell Research Controversy." Stem Cell History. N.p., January 5, 2011. Web. 16 Feb 2012.

Martin, Jonathan. "Obama reverses Bush stem cell ban." Politico. Capitol News Company, March 9, 2009. Web. 13 Feb 2012.

Sandel, M. J. The case against perfection, ethics in the age of genetic engineering. Belknap Press, 2007. Print.

"Stem Cell Research Timeline." Stem Cell History. N.p., February 1, 2011. Web. 16 Feb 2012.

Wekesser, C. Genetic engineering: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Print.