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The Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering Research

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Essay title: The Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering Research

The Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering Research

I. Introduction

In the past three decades, scientists have learned how to mix and match characteristics among unrelated creatures by moving genes from one creature to another. This is called “genetic engineering.” Genetic Engineering is a test tube science and is prematurely applied in food production. There are estimates that food output must increase by 60 percent over the next 25 years to keep up with demand. Thus, the result of scientist genetically altering plants for more consumption. The two most common methods for gene transfer are biological and electromechanical. “Early experiments all involved changing DNA using bacterial vectors”(Randerson, 2001). Through other advances scientists proclaim how they can improve the human gene pool. All humans have genes which carry certain traits structuring a person’s chemical make-up. "Inheritable characteristics are passed from one generation to the next through DNA, a molecule that is present in all of our cells”(Massey,2001).

Gene Engineering could be used in various ways trying to improve humans. “Gene modifications can have an impact solely on a single person (somatic manipulation), or on a person's children and all subsequent descendants (germline manipulation). Somatic manipulation seeks to change the genetic makeup of particular body in somatic cells that comprise the organs and tissues. Germline genetic manipulation changes the sex cells which can modify the health of a child”(Hayes, 2000). Many applications of human genetic technology are favorable and hold great potential for preventing diseases and alleviating suffering. Other applications open the door to a human future of robot like humans. My research of genetics promises to make designer children possible, either through selective breeding or actual modification of genes. With the human genetic engineering parents can have the ability to alter the genes they pass to their children. Just think you can have your own Michael Jordan become your child using gene manipulation. Scientists raise the spectra of gene modified athletes. In gene manipulation athletes could genetically modify themselves with performance enhancing DNA. “One possibility would be to inject the gene for eythropoietin (EPO), a protein that boosts red blood cell count. This allows an athlete's blood to carry more oxygen”(Randerson, 2001). “And far-fetched as it may seem, we may be watching genetically-modified (GM) athletes as soon as the Beijing Olympics in 2008”(Randerson, 2001).

Think of a futuristic approach of choosing a child's genes from a magazine can certainly capture the imagination. Parents today enroll their children in the best possible schools and will do anything to make sure their children look up to standards. Possibly in a few decades parents would be able to choose from a plethora of traits: hair color, eye color, bigger muscles and so on that their children could obtain. Maybe they'd like to add a few inches to a child's height. Or improve their kid's chances at longevity by tweaking inherited DNA. Planning the child’s genetic future could really give him/her a head start in life.

II. Background

There isn’t any background information of human genetic engineering because it is perceived as unmoral, but there are many comparable instances of altering genes. Genetic engineering is the largest food experiment in the history of the world. “More than 100 million acres of the world's most fertile farmland were planted with genetically modified crops last year, about 25 times as much as just four years earlier”(King,1999). There is a series on genetic engineering of food crops, genetic engineers are now moving genes around among plants and animals. The attempt to improve the human race genetically relates to someone creating a specialized breed of horses or dogs. “In the early decades of the 20th century, eugenics projects in the U.S. led to forced sterilization of some people who were considered to have undesirable traits”(Massey,2001). “Currently, genetic engineering is only applied to non-reproductive cells known as gene therapy in order to treat diseases in a single patient, rather than in all their descendants”(King 1999). Ian Wilmut a scottish embryologist in 1996 presented us with the first clone of an adult mammal, a lamb named Dolly. United States gene therapy pioneer, French Anderson, began doing gene therapy on fetuses, to treat certain genetic diseases. Another scientist, James Grifo of New York University is transferring cell nuclei from the eggs of older to younger women. He aims to overcome certain fertility problems, but the result would be babies with three genetic parents, arguably a form of

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