What is genetic engineering one might ask and why is there so much moral controversy surrounding the topic? Genetic engineering as defined by Pete Moore, "is the name given to a wide variety of techniques that have one thing in common: they all allow the biologist to take a gene from one cell and insert it into another" (SS1). Such techniques included in genetic engineering (both "good" and "bad") are, genetic screening both during the fetal stage and later in life, gene therapy, sex selection in fetuses, and cloning. Because of many ethical, religious, and safety concerns, genetic engineering is the source of much debate and argument. Many people, even scientists, have raised strong questions concerning the issue. In his article Moore raises such questions as, "Could the technology get out of control and damage human health or the environment? Who will decide which of the many uses are safe and permissible, and which should be banned? How can we assess the safety of genetic engineering?" (SS1) These questions and similar ones raised by the opposition do hold valid moral and ethical considerations. However, the vast benefits of regulated genetic engineering techniques could greatly improve human health, the environment, and agriculture, and must be allowed to be explored by responsible scientists. Simply put, genetic engineering offers a possible brighter future for our world and everyone in it and it must be pursued in a restricted manner so the positive effects can be obtained.
The first point that must be made when arguing for the use of genetic engineering is stressing that genetic engineering must be highly controlled to avoid possible catastrophe. In his book, The Ethics of Genetic Control, Joseph Fletcher describes ...
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...seases would also be eliminated.
It is obvious that both sides of the genetic engineering debate have very valid arguments based on their beliefs. However, from the scientist standpoint the banning of genetic engineering research and techniques would be a rash mistake. For how can we know what might have been if we never try? And how can with move our world into the future without exploring progress? Therefore, under strict controls, safety precautions, and bans of unethical techniques, genetic engineering could very well be the key to a better world and a better life for all.
Fletcher, Joseph. The Ethics of Genetic Control. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974.
Moore, Pete. "Genetic Manipulation." New Scientist 13 Nov. 1993: SS1-SS4.
Shannon, Thomas A. What Are They Saying About Genetic Engineering? New York: Paulist Press, 1985.
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