Debate Topic:

hollandmercifulBiotechnology

Dec 11, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)

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Debate Topic
:

Genetic Engineering


One must be careful to distinguish between
genetic engineering



actual tampering
with

the genetic code of a being or embryo


and other forms of intervention in the
natural

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

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

but which do not
involve

changing or
substituting DNA cells.


Pros


[
1] There are myriad benefits to genetic
engineering in the plant world, of immense
significa
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
enetic
engineering allows us to transfer genes one
at a time, and with a far greater degree of
certainty. It is a revolution only in
technique.

Cons


[1] Genetic engineering involves ma
n

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

In the quest for ever greater profits, w
e

are fiddling with workings that we barely
understand.


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

those made
about pesticides in the 1950
s

and 1960s
(e.g. DDT), which pr
oved disastrous for the
food chain. Like all sci
ence from nuclear
power to the ‘green revolution’
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-
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[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
-
breeding
technique.


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


either
germ line

therapy or
somatic

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
long
-
term
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
lones.

[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
-
line
level.

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

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
offs
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
become
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.