Genetic Manipulation

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Genetic Manipulation In David Brins science fiction novel called The Uplift War, the reader is presented with a world in which humans have not only become a space faring species and made contact with extraterrestrials, but also made an astounding achievement on their own world; they have made dolphins and chimpanzees into thinking, sentient creatures through a process called uplift. Uplift is a process of elevating animal species to full sapience through methods of breeding and genetic engineering. The uplifted species, known as clients, then serve their patrons, the species who uplifted them, until the patrons release them from indenture. Naturally, this causes many problems. Client species are often looked upon as inferior; this is partly due to strict regulation of activities such as breeding. Although uplift is still just Brins invention, we are rapidly gaining the techniques and knowledge to make uplift a reality. This is why we must carefully examine the ethics of genetic manipulation. First, the methods of genetic manipulation must be discussed. In Brins novel, a combination of selective mutation, breeding programs, and education were used to evolve the natural form into a conscious being. These methods, while hardly gentle, were not drastic and took place over hundreds of years, gradually eliminating the unwanted traits and encouraging admirable characteristics (Yep). Today, there are several methods of genetic manipulation, most of which involve various methods of inserting foreign DNA into an animal. They all share the same goal: to integrate and stabilize a desired DNA strand into the genome of an organism (Macer). The most widely used are retroviral infection, pronuclear microinjection, and nuclear transfer. Retroviral infection uses a virus, which contains the desired gene that will be incorporated into the organisms genome, to infect groups of embryos in culture in both prenatal and postnatal life. This method takes a lot of time and effort because the construction of the virus is quite complicated. Another effect of infection is that the information of the viruses may not always be incorporated into all the cultured cells, requiring out breeding of selected organisms to isolate those with the desired gene (Macer). Pronuclear microinjection is another method of genetic manipulation. Linear DNA fragments containing the desired gene are injected into the nucleus of a fertilized egg, where they will be incorporated at random locations. The desired gene will eventually be expressed in a percentage of resulting organisms. While relatively simple, there is still control over the expression rate of the genes or the disruption of genes vital to the organisms survival (Macer).
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