Debate Topic:


Dec 11, 2012 (4 years and 4 months ago)


Debate Topic

Genetic Engineering

One must be careful to distinguish between
genetic engineering

actual tampering

the genetic code of a being or embryo

and other forms of intervention in the

process. Some of the latter are grouped togethe
in the topic ‘
Eugenics: IVF

Screening’, which affect the ‘natural way of things’

but which do not

changing or
substituting DNA cells.


1] There are myriad benefits to genetic
engineering in the plant world, of immense
nce to the world's starving millions.
Perhaps the most immediate will be the
creation of crop varieties that are resistant
to disease, thereby requiring less pesticides
and safeguarding the environment. Even
more importantly, the development of
varieties t
hat require little in the way of
expensive chemical treatments will be a
boon to the developing world.

[2] Genetic engineering is nothing new.
Man has been `genetically engineering'
crops and livestock by artificial selection for
thousands of years. Wheat

could never
have evolved in the wild; the domestic cat
is an artificial animal, the result of 4,000
years of `unnatural' breeding. But in the
past we had to genetically engineer
indirectly, by painstaking cross breeding
and hoping to keep certain genes. G
engineering allows us to transfer genes one
at a time, and with a far greater degree of
certainty. It is a revolution only in


[1] Genetic engineering involves ma

acting in
a sphere that should be the
serve of God, or at least na

In the quest for ever greater profits, w

are fiddling with workings that we barely

[2] The promises made now about genetic
engineering are reminiscent o

those made
about pesticides in the 1950

and 1960s
(e.g. DDT), which pr
oved disastrous for the
food chain. Like all sci
ence from nuclear
power to the ‘green revolution’
Ⱐ睥 捡c be
獵牥 geneti挠engineering 睩ll pro浩獥 晡r
浯me th慮 it will deliverⰠ 慮d 捲e慴e

[㍝ Geneti挠engineering poses serious

睨i捨c睥 barel礠under獴慮d⸠cor ex慭pleⰠ
愠 so祢e慮 v慲iet礠 睨i捨c h慤 been
engineered to re獩獴s 愠 herbi捩de w慳
睩thdr慷a 晲om 獡se 慦aer it w慳 di獣o癥red
th慴 愠 br慺il nut gene in獥rted into the
獯祢y慮 a乁N捡csed an 慬lergi挠re慣瑩on in
people 慬l
ergi挠 to nut献 䄠 geneti捡汬y
慬tered 捯tton pl慮tⰠ de獩gned

to re獩獴s
晲o獴Ⱐproduced⁰ 慮t猠th慴敶er ripened.

[3] Problems of dysfunctional varieties that
may arise are nothing to be alarmed about.
They would equally have arisen from cross
breeding an
d simply illustrate that genetic
engineering should be employed with as
much care as any other cross

[4] Genetic engineering can be used in
humans in two ways

germ line

therapy or

therapy. The former
involves engineeri
ng genes in the sex cells
of potential parents to alter the genetic
material inherited by their offspring (e.g.
seeking to remove the gene for Alzheimer's
or MS) and thus has
repercussions. Somatic therapy deals only
with the individual during hi
s or her lifetime
and is not inherited

e.g. giving a diabetic
a gene to produce insulin internally. We
should be more cautious with germ line
therapy but both can be used for the
medical benefit of humanity.

[5] Cloning is an exciting new development

among other things, a way to provide
children for childless couples. The
opposition to cloning is almost entirely
fantastical and hysterical. The medical
profession will not allow people to believe
that a clone will be a replica of themselves
or a potentia
l replacement for a deceased
loved one. Identical twins, like clones, have
identical genetic material, but we do not
consider them replicas of each other

environment and experience make them
into totally different people. The same will
be the case with c

[4] Genes are complicated things related to
each other in complex ways that we do not
always understand. We know that some
genes with negative effects (e.g. the gene
for sickle cell anaemia) survive because of
the positive benefits they also bring
immunity from malaria). We do not know
what benefits and essential human traits
we are playing with when we permanently
alter genetic make
up at the germ

We should err on the side of caution
and have a moratorium on genetic
engineering until ou
r knowledge is better

The prejudices of the current
age (in favour, perhaps, of very narrow
sporting, economic or intellectual abilities)
will be inscribed into our genetic heritage
for centuries to come.

This sort of
mentality was behind the Na
zi ideology
that resulted in the Jewish holocaust.

[5] Cloning is a procedure that is open to
many of the same dangers and abuses as
genetic engineering. It is, furthermore,
worrying that people might be egotistical
enough to clone themselves to make
pring. People like that are not fit to be
parents. Clones will be used to replace
deceased loved ones

disillusioning for
the creator and demeaning for the clone.
Clones of celebrities, scientists, the
healthy, intelligent, athletic and so on will
commodities on a world market.
Dictators will clone weak
willed and
physically fit soldiers into armies. For these
reasons human cloning is illegal in the UK,
while a moratorium has been imposed on
further research in the US.