Science and Ethics - Genetic study and modification

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12 Δεκ 2012 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

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Science and ethics


Genetic study and modification

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Science

refers to “
the intellectual and
practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the
structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” or “a
systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject” or more simply, knowledge of
any
kind.

Ethics

refers to the moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior. It is also a branch of
science that deals with moral principles, what’s right and what’s wrong.

Genetic

study

and

modification

(genetic engineering) is the human ma
nipulation of an organism's
genetic material in a way that does not occur under natural conditions.



Describe the issue

Does genetic engineering conflict with ethics? To some, it may.

Genetic engineering manipulates organisms’ genes or DNA. Be it a plant,

an animal, or even another
human being, it is messing with what nature is to some.

Ethics deal with morality, and in this case, many
people question the morality of genetic engineering. Some question if this is a violation of God’s will.
Others questi
on
genetic engineers
. In a book titled ‘Who should play God’ (Rifkin, 1977), he questioned
if genetic engineers should be ‘playing God’.


The conflict comes
with questions (
Glenn
, 2004)




Are we blurring the lines between species by creating transgenic combina
tions?



What are the known health risks associated with transgenics?



What are the long
-
term effects on the environment when transgenics are released in the field?



What ethical, social, and legal controls or reviews should be placed on such research?



Are we inflicting pain and suffering on sentient creatures when we create certain types of
chimeras?



Will transgenic interventions in humans create physical or behavioral traits that may or may not
be readily distinguished from what is usually perceived t
o be “human”?



If the blending of nonhuman animal and human DNA results, intentionally or not, in chimeric
entities possessing degrees of intelligence or sentience never before seen in nonhuman animals,
should these entities be given rights and special pro
tections?



What unintended personal, social, and cultural consequences could result?



Will these interventions redefine what it means to be “normal”?



Who will have access to these technologies, and how will scarce resources be allocated?

There are
numerous questions that doubt the morality of genetic engineering. However, from the stand
of science, it is all about the pursuit of knowledge.

Gaining knowledge is the basic aim of science, where
knowledge is discovered and organized. If one does not und
ergo the study of genetic engineering, then
it will go against the principles of science, as one is not trying to find out more about a subject. If a
person does not go in pursuit of new knowledge, he can hardly be claimed as a scientist.

However, ethics
claim that there should be a limit as to what branches of science we can pursue. To the
ethicists, genetic study will violate human rights if it becomes more advanced in the future, as it can
fundamentally alter us. Ethicists believe studying and altering
human genes are morally incorrect as it
infringes on human rights, and this is their main argument.


Main arguments for each POV

From the stand of science, it is all about the pursuit of knowledge. Gaining knowledge is the basic aim of
science, where knowl
edge is discovered and organized. If one does not undergo the study of genetic
engineering, then it will go against the principles of science, as one is not trying to find out more about a
subject. If a person does not go in pursuit of new knowledge, he ca
n hardly be claimed as a scientist.
Science is not about the ethics of something


it is about the hows and the whys. Also, some proponents
claim that genetic engineering is no more different from what humans have been doing for centuries


changing the en
vironment for their benefit, just that in this case it is about changing ourselves.

Science argues that genetic engineering can bring about far more benefits than disadvantages.
Genetically modified (GM) crops have many benefits, such as insect resistant crops, vitamin
-
rich crops
and fast growing crops.
These crops have the possibility to

help cure hunger, to help provide essential
vitamins and to help increase farmer incomes. GM animals have the ability to help create stronger and
better products to help the human race, such as medicine and new materials. All these are the benefits
that c
an come about from genetic engineering, and depriving us of these benefits by being over
-
concerned with ethics is a big disadvantage to humans.

For ethics, it is all about the morality of it. There are many arguments on this point, but the bulk of it is
r
egarding identity and safety. In identity, it targets the fundamental alteration of human genes.
This
alteration can occur in terms of the changing of stem cells, embryonic cells and also the sex cells. All
these changes in the cells, ethicists argue, coul
d cause a change in what it is to be human. By changing
all these cells, the notion of ‘human’ is no longer distinct because of all the changes. Identity is
compromised when undergoing genetic engineering. Safety is also another issue that ethicists argue
about, because of the possibility of bringing about eugenics once again due to the ability to create
‘designer babies’. This is a cause of concern for all in the world for it may bring about a second bout of
holocaust.
Ethics are also concerned about the b
enefits of genetic engineering, for some say that though
there are advantages, the advantages could work against us. GM crops could kill harmless insects like
the monarch butterfly, or medicine from genetic engineering could cause new diseases.

Genetically

modifying humans can also bring the argument of ‘unfair advantage’. Those who are rich
enough can create designer babies, and possibly engineer their genes so that they would be inclined
towards on field of knowledge, or just be a perfect all
-
rounder righ
t from birth. Those who are not rich
enough to afford this will definitely suffer a big disadvantage since there is a supposed race of ‘super
-
humans’ who are good at everything. This unfair advantage is an issue that ethicists argue about too,
whether it
is right for the more affluent to exercise this sort of power and indirectly oppress that less
affluent
.

Diagrams/pictures for illustrations




References and suggested readings

http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/GEessays/gedanger.htm#Ethical

(
readings
)

http://bioethics.georgetown
.edu/documents/pcemr/splicinglife.pdf

(chapter 3)

http://www.enotes.com/ethics
-
genetic
-
article

http://www.actionbioscience.org/b
iotech/glenn.html


http://i1.squidoocdn.com/resize/squidoo_images/
-
1/draft_lens1970771module9386346photo_1209850075Genet
ic_Engineering.gif

http://www.marymeetsdolly.com/blog/uploads/genetic
-
engineering
-
cartoon.gif