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Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 9 months ago)

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Kirsten Midkiff


English
Final

Draft
-

revised

February
22
nd

2010

Genetic Engineering


Should genetic engineering be socially and morally accepted in this
day

and age? Peggy
Orenstein,
Jeremy Rifkin
and Michael Sandel
all have differing

opinions

on the topic. Genetic
engineering is a process of altering DNA by s
p
licing together fragments from multiple organisms.
In
some cases this process is used for personal desire rather than in the case of infertility. This is
defined as
eugenics or genetic en
gineering with the
intent of improving an organism (Wikipedia).
As stated above
the engineering of genes

can be useful when it comes to the case of human infertility

by giving an
infertile woman a naturally impossible opportunity
and for altering a
physica
l or
mental illness before
birth. This
technological improvement

however can be abused by the more wealthy population to
design their ideal children before they are out of the womb.
So the question exists, is genetic
engineering morally and ethically corre
ct in this day and age?
I agree with the idea of making conceiving
a child possible for an infertile woman, but when it comes to idea of creating an improved society, I
believe that some things are just not meant to be
changed

by science
.


The essay “Your

Gamete, Myself”, by Peggy Orenstein, expresses a woman’s desire to
experience pregnancy firsthand. Some women cannot have children of their own so egg donation gives
them the op
portunity to bear a child as if it was their own. Sandel however has an import
ant point,
“Should there be limits put on genetic
engineering?” (2).
Using this

method of conception
may be

appropriate in cases of

infertility, but should
gene therapy, which can be used to prevent mental and
physical disabilities before birth,

be used to

genetically alter the child’s hair color, level of intelligence, or
artistic abilities? He calls this method
“an instrument for privileged parents to give their children a
competitive edge.”
(4
).
However on
the other h
and Rifkin has an idea of an ideal society. “There
are two
types of eugenics. The first type
is negative eugenics which involves the systematic elimination of so
-
called biologically undesira
ble traits. The other is p
ositive eugenics

which

is concerned with

genetic
man
ipulation to

improve


the characteris
tics of an organism or species.”
(579).
Although this can be
positive when ridding a child of mental or physical illness,
what happens when a movie star couple
decides to do this alteration and something tu
rns out wrong? When they go to make sure their embryo
has the genes of a singer, with blue eyes and red hair and the child is born with three arms and without
a nose? Who is obligated to take care of this child when the parents want nothing to do with it,
even
though it is theirs? I feel like the whole idea is morally wrong.
Believing in a higher being has led me to
totally shun this idea. He is the creator and scientists have no right to change what has always been a
natural process.

An argument that Mich
ael Sandel has is that you should love and appreciate
your
children for who they are
(3).
They may not be artistic or musically inclined, but you should support
them at whatever they are good at.
Sandel
also makes
a

point stating that rather than make the
population what is humanly defined as “normal”, we should alter the definition and be more open to
the fact
of difference and imperfection
(4).
This

is what we should be spending millions of
dollars in
government money on when even Rifkin said, “Parents in

the biotech
century
will be increasingly forced
to take their chances with traditional genetic line lottery….knowing their children might inherit some
undesirable traits

(580)
which may be the affect of using this science before it is totally ready.

If t
hey
know that unwanted side affects come along with this process, they obviously understand that it is not
yet ready to be tested or used at all.
By making differences more united, no one would have to try so
hard to be perfect in an imperfect world.
It’
s
not only a matter of morals but a fact of future questions
that may arise from th
e genetically altered child.

Orenstein

states that eugenics can be a sensitive subject for the mother when the child asks her
why they don’t look alike

(584
).

Even in a parent’s case of using
an egg donor
to cope with infertility
issues, there are

emotional times to get through.

There is also the question as whether or not to tell the
child about it, and if you do, what rights do they have as to meeting the dono
r.

From
Orenstein’s

essay
Catherine
, a donor child,

had many questions growing up. At age
ten

she asked her
non

biological birth
mother, “Why don’t I look like you?”
Then at age twelve she
said

what no birth mother of a donor child
wants to hear, “You know
, technically speaking, you’re not actually my mother.”

(585).
These are the
types of things that a child
is going to want to understand. They are going to have a
l
ot of

questions

and
are going to want a lot of answers
. When you are infertile and go throug
h with this eugenic p
rocess, you
are doing it for the desire of having

a child to love and call your own. When a person abuses
the method
of gene therapy to improve

natural occurrences to change a child’s height, weight, or physical abilities,
they are cha
nging their biological children to something or someone else. What happens then, when
their children ask these questions? “Why don’t I have daddy’s eyes, or your nose, and why can I play the
violin but you guys were athletes?” These are some emotional time
s that can be easily avoided by

having natural pregnancies and letting your child be themselves, the person they were meant to be
,
over genetically improving a child without any kind of complications
.


In my obvious opinion genetic engineering should only

be used in the cases of infertility

and
gene therapy with the purpose of preventing illness and disease, not for personal desire
. The fact of
using this new technology for what Sandel calls “fun” is beyond my beliefs.
Why change an imperfect
world to make

it more “perfect” when the point of being human is being different and unique?
Scientists do not care about the child or the parents. They want the money that comes along with a
successful operation which isn’t even close to being
considered guaranteed. W
hy put

your child

at risk
of a deeper problem just to change what
may not be

ideal. A child might have been destined to find the
cure for cancer, but you would rather him be a professional basketball player than join the science team
in high school. To cha
nge a child’s genetic make
-
u
p so that they have nice hair, or

a smaller nose might
be used for the right reasons such as giving them a chance in the modeling world, but wouldn’t
it mean
more to

see
a

children achieve things on their own, not because
they
were given everything they
needed
. When
a parent

let
s their child strive

to

achieve and desire greatness it is them who will reach
perfection, not

their creator
.