Genetic engineering has been one of the most controversial ethical issues since 1997; when Dolly, the first successfully cloned sheep, was announced. Dolly has redefined the meaning of “identical twin”; not only does she look exactly like her mother she also has the same genetic make up. This experiment was not only impossible but unthinkable. Yet, Dr. Ian Wilmut revealed Dolly on February 23, 1997, at seven months old ( Travis 1). On the surface genetic engineering may appear to be the solution to all of society’s ills and the worlds problems. In all actuality it may have tremendous and unknown side effects. The issues that surround genetic engineering undoubtedly make it immoral and ethically wrong.
Genetic Engineering as defined by Susan A. Hagedorn is:
The manipulation of an organism’s genetic endowment by introducing or eliminating genes through modern molecular biology techniques. A broad
definition of genetic engineering also includes selective breeding and other means
of artificial selection ( “Genetic Engineering” 1).
After hearing of the “creation” of Dolly Americans soon learned the harsh fact surrounding her creation. Dr. Wilmut’s success was accompanied by 276 failures. This success rate is no where near clinically acceptable. To start the developing of the eggs they were shocked with electric pulses; twenty nine of the 277 of these eggs began to divide. The eggs, at that point were implanted into adult female sheep; thirteen of which became pregnant, and only the one of 277 eggs were born - Dolly ( Wilmut 1).
Long term prospects of mammal cloning remain in question. this is no where near clinically acceptable for experimentation on humans.
In the months following the news of Dolly, President Clinton requested, “ a through review of the legal and ethical issues associated with the use of this technology... with recommendations on possible federal actions to prevent its abuse” (Shermer 1). The answer is clear-- there is no safe place to draw the line on when genetic engineering is acceptable and is not. Governments can not say that the uses are strictly limited to curing disease because then there becomes a question of what is a genetic disease. For example, we may feel comfortable defining a mutation in the cystic fibrosis gene as causing disease if it leads to chronic respiratory infections from birth to death at the age of twenty five. However a different mutations in the same gene might caused little or no problem is this also cystic fibrosis?