Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering in Humans


Dec 12, 2012 (8 years and 10 months ago)


Response Group

Are you in favor opposed to genetic research and manipulation in humans?


Back ground information

Genetic manipulation has been happing for years
Simply said, it’s a way of manipulating our genes in such a way to make our
bodies and lives better.
There are two ways
of treating genes
therapy is



sperm treatment
, this will alter traits in a child
, it is illegal
at this

st recently a girl was born in the United

with the
ncer gene that ran in her family removed. The second type
of gene therapy
is called SOMATIC cell gene therapy, this is legal.

Somatic therapy is when a
healthy gene is fired into our systems to

do the job a malfunctioning gene is
not doing.

Unfortunately, along with the good comes the bad. Genetic mutations and
deaths have occurred

is scientific studies
. Do the pros

the cons or
the other way around?


Students will be able to disc



the pros and cons of genetic

Students will be able to analyze and support and write a
hypothesis as to what will happen if we do or don’t encourage genetic


Source for information was a two part article on
the pros and cons of genetic
engineering in human.


5 Question


Why you in favor of
genetic engineering on humans either in the
gamete phase of birth, Germline therapy or Somatic therapy? If you
are not why not?


How do you think we coul
d be better of

with or without


Describe the


and scientific

difference between manipulating
gametes before the egg is fertilized, or organisms after they have
fertilized each other.


The scenario is,
your child is found to have Downs Syndrome,
and this

is caused by part or all of an extra 21

chromosome, would you have
gene thera
py done to remove your child’s
chromosome. So they can
live a normal life.

Describe the conflicts one might have. Discuss if
parents should be able to step in the way of helping a child
’s medical
condition if the resources are there, other than religious beliefs.


If in favor of gene manipulation and had severe rheumatoid arth
for many years, what would be the success rate threshold for you to
eek this type of therapy? Why would
you volunteer for genetic
therapy? A 3
6 year old woman,
after getting gene treatment for
arthritis, died three days later. They think the gene

injected may have
overseeded or spread a virus through her body.


Student assignment


Write a couple paragraphs
to tell me your position of genetic


If you’re not in favor of genetic engineering. What do you think

should do with the infor
mation we have.


Find someone who is for it and against and have a discussion with
both. Did they sway your thinking at all, did you sway their opinion?



Article by

Paul Arnold

(46,319 pts

Edited & published by
Paul Arnold

(46,319 pts
) on Nov 9, 2009


Gene Therapy
Genetic Engineering
Genetic Mutations

The human body is not perfect. Some are created with inherent faults and others break
down before their time. Science has the potential to make good these problems by
altering how humans are made. This is genetic engineering, and this article looks at th
pros and cons of the technology in humans

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Definition of Genetic Engineering

This is part one of a two
part series. Here I will look at a defintion of
genetic engineering

and the pros of human genetic engineering. In
part two

the c
ons and the ethics of human
genetic engineering are discussed.

Before weighing up the pros and cons of genetic engineering in humans, it's worth taking
the time to understand just what is meant by the idea. Simply put, it's a way of
manipulating our genes
in such a way as to make our bodies better. This alteration of a
genome could take place in the sperm and egg cells. This is known as germline gene
therapy and would alter the traits that a child is born with. The changes would be
inheritable and passed do
wn through the generations. It is currently illegal in many

The other way to change our genome is to swap our bad genes for good ones

in cells
other than the sex cells. This is known as somatic cell gene therapy. This is where a
functioning ge
ne could be fired into our bodies on a viral vector to carry out the functions
that a faulty gene is unable to. This technology is permitted, though it has enjoyed a very
limited success rate so far (largely because it is technically very difficult). Nonet
heless, it
still holds out a great deal of promise.

Pros of Genetic Engineering in Humans

There are many potential advantages to being able to alter the cells in our bodies

To make disease a thing of the past

Most people on the planet die of
disease or have family members
that do. Very few of us will just pop up to bed one night and gently close our eyes for the
last time. Our genomes are not as robust as we would like them to be and genetic
mutations either directly cause a disease such as Cy
stic fibrosis, or they contribute to it
greatly i.e. Alzheimer's. Or in the case of some conditions such as the heart disease
genetic mutations

can mak
e our bodies more susceptible to attack from
viruses or our own immune system. If the full benefits of gene therapy are ever realised
we can replace the dud genes with correctly functioning copies.

To extend life spans

Having enjoyed life, most of us want to cling on to it for as long as possible. The genetic
engineering of humans has the potential to greatly increase our life spans. Some estimates
reckon that 100
150 years could be the norm. Of course
gene therapy

for a fatal condition
will increase the lifespan of the patient but we're also talking about genetic modifications
of healthy people to give them a longer life. Once we full
y understand the genetics of
ageing it may be possible to slow down or reverse some of the cellular mechanisms that
lead to our decline

for example by preventing telomeres at the ends of chromosomes
from shortening. Telomere shortening is known to contri
bute to cell senescence.

Better pharmaceuticals

The knowledge gained by working out genetic solutions for the above could help with the
design of better pharmaceutical products that are able to target specifically genetic
mutations in each individual.



As deliriously exciting as some people believe genetic engineerng to be

there are
several downsides and ethical dilemmas which will be discussed in
part two

n genetic engineering has the power to shape the future of the human race. This is
the second part of an article looking at the pros and cons of the genetic modification of

The Cons of Human Genetic Engineering

Part one

of this article looked at the pros of genetic engineering in humans. Now, we look
at the cons. As with any new technology, there are some downsides.

There's a big question mark over safety

are risks associated with getting genes into a human body and having them carry
out the desired function. Some genes are carried in on viral vectors and these bugs have
been altered so as not to infect a patient with a disease. However, a small number of g
therapy trials have resulted in the deaths of some subjects.

Also, we simply do not know long term the potential ramifications of altering genes. For
example, if you were to stop telomeres from shortening would this have negative knock
on effects elsew
here in the genome? The human genome and our whole bodies are a
maze of complicated biological signals, pathways and interrelationships. A positive
change upstream could cause a negative effect downstream.

Genetic diversity

If we were all to undergo genetic modification would this limit our
genetic diversity
Could there be a danger that our gene pool diminishes and that as a population w
become more susceptible to being wiped out by a hitherto unknown disease threat?

A Slippery Slope? Ethics of Human Genetic Engineering

To say that genetic engineering has attracted some controversy would be an
understatement. There are many cries that sc
ientists are 'playing God' and that it will lead
to a two
tier society

the genetically haves and the have
nots. But is this any different to
the cries of horror and fears of Frankenstein's monster that greeted Louise Brown, the
first child to be born by
IVF treatment? There was great uproar in the late 1970's but IVF
is now a common, if expensive, fertility treatment. And there aren't any monsters stalking
the Earth.

Having said that, genetic engineering does hold the potential that parents could (if the
technology worked) assemble their kids genetically, to be smarter, to be more athletic or
have a particular hair or
eye colour
. Though it's rather fanciful to suggest that intelligence
could be improved by the substitution of a gene, it may be found that there are several
genes that are more commonly expressed in the genomes of inte
lligent people than those
with more limited intellectual capacity. And parents might want to engineer an embryo to
house a greater number of these genes. It is this genetic engineering of humans that so
frightens people, that we could somehow design the hu
man race. Though some people
point out other potential benefits. What if it turned out that there were sets of genes that
were commonly expressed in criminals

could we tackle crime by weeding out those

The technology is nowhere near there yet, but

a tiny number of parents undergoing IVF
have selected their
embryos to be free from genetic mutations

that have blighted
generations of their family. In the UK in Jan
uary 2009 a mother gave birth to a girl whose
embryo had been selected to be free from a genetic form of breast cancer. Some see this
as a slippery slope towards a eugenic future, others view it as a valuable use of genetic
engineering to prevent disease f
rom striking someone down.

Society will decide how it uses this technology, and it is for governments to weigh up the
pros and cons of genetic engineering in humans to see what may be carried out and what
should be illegal. They will be prompted by public
understanding, desire and concern. It
therefore behoves all of us to understand what scientists are trying to accomplish and
what they are not trying to do. We must all become better informed, to equip ourselves
with more information and to know the differ
ence between science fiction and science

Reference Page

Johnson, C (2007)
. Retrieved from

Arnold, P (2009)
Bright Hub
. Retrieved from

Arnold, P (2009)
Bright Hub
. Retrieved from

Grading rubrics

Interacts in a positive manner

Maintains eye cont

Speaks loudly

Sticks to the subject of conversation

Promotes own ideas completely, clearly and logically

States ideas in clear logical manner

States ideas at appropriate manner.

Listens well and considers what others say

Listen without interrupting

Makes eye contact with speaker

Show understanding

Acts in a mature way to others’ ideas

Considers other’s ideas

Shows appreciation for others’ ideas

Interacts well with groups

Team thought process

Discusses issues with partners

Promotes group discussion