Dilemma of Genetic Engineering

Morganne G, Olivia P, Erin C, Kelly C, and Elizabeth W

Basics of Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering first came about in the early 1970's to treat diseases through modifying genetic defects. This alteration of the genetic material's structure allows new genetic information into the nucleus of targeted cells to repair them. Genetic engineering and gene therapy may provide advancements in curing and preventing chronic disease. However, a fine line exists that could be crossed when using gene therapy for personal gain in ourselves and our unknowing children. Therefore, how is society supposed to define newborn and fetal rights when genetic engineering is involved? And to what degree must society's moral values be tested before the line is crossed in human genetic engineering (Moyer)? Gene therapy should only be utilized for life-threatening medical conditions, not for people to gain an unfair advantage in life.

Advantages of Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering can aid people in many ways. Technology has allowed doctors and scientists to see genes in a whole new way. Genetic engineering is much further along than anyone has ever imagined (Regalado). By editing DNA, the possibility arises to pass down healthy genetic fixes to future generations so children have the potential to be disease free (Regalado) (Rochman 4). Diseases such as SCID, which otherwise would be potentially fatal, are able to be cured through gene therapy (Fischer). Genetic engineering allows “researchers to explore a child’s health down to every last typo on a chromosome” (Rochman 2). Technology such as this will expand more globally with time and will allow "development of effective genome-based vaccines and provide treatments for diseases in the developing world” (Williams 124).

The bad and the ugly of genetic engineering

As genetic engineering starts to become a formidable reality, the ethics of manipulating genes begins to become questionable. The modification of healthy, young athletes to improve athletic performance, once thought to only exist in science fiction, may become reality (Friedmann). Once the line is crossed for athletes, what is to stop parents from altering their baby's genes to make them more intelligent? Many countries, which have banned germ-line engineering, say that genetic engineering is too risky (Regalado). The idea of genetic engineering shifted from an idea aimed at reducing the likelihood children will be born with a debilitating disease to parents who are striving to make their child more enamoring (Allen). Genetic engineering should only be used to treat extremely debilitating or likely fatal diseases, not for purely personal gain.

Works Cited

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Fischer, Alain, and Marina Cavazzana-Calvo. "Whither gene therapy? Success has been mingled with failure; a few technical modifications could make the method safer." The Scientist Feb. 2006: 36+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Friedmann, Theodore. "How close are we to gene doping?" The Hastings Center Report Mar.-Apr. 2010: 20+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. "Infant Possibilities." Popular Science 285.2 (2014): 50. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2015

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Regalado, Antonio. "Engineering The Perfect Baby. (Cover Story)." MIT Technology Review (2015): 26. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Rochman, Bonnie. "The DNA Dilemma: A Test That Could Change Your Life." Time 180.26 (2012): 42. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

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Williams, Janet K., Heather Skirton, and Agnes Masny. "Ethics, Policy, And Educational Issues In Genetic Testing." Journal Of Nursing Scholarship 38.2 (2006): 119-125. Consumer Health Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.