Double-Edged Sword

Topics: DNA, Genetics, Stem cell Pages: 5 (1687 words) Published: September 14, 2008
The evolution of the world and its civilizations is galvanized by continual scientific and technological progress, which is brought about by the vast reservoir of knowledge that humankind has gained over the centuries in countless attempts to quench their insatiable thirst for the ultimate key that will unlock all the secrets of life. In the last few decades, men and women of science who are determined to fully unveil the mysteries of the universe were already able to take evolution to a whole new level—one that is closer to its culmination. They were able to discover the amazing ability of defying nature and manipulating those which holds the code to the individual characteristics of every living organism: genes. Genetic engineering, or gene manipulation, was once but a very popular element of science fictions and films; now, it has been lifted off the pages and television screens, and has become a reality that can actually help humanity overcome many of its imperfections. However, as this truth shows only a small part of the big picture, the capability of modifying the biological makeup of organisms has generated conflicting views from society. It is best to acknowledge the fact that while recent breakthroughs have presented us with unforeseen promises, they have, at the same time, given us complex predicaments. The educational film DNA: The Promise and the Price introduces the viewers to four immensely powerful molecular biology techniques that may just as well decide the world’s future. With genetic engineering still in its premature stage, only time can tell whether its potential to improve medical technologies—and, subsequently, human lives—outweighs all the socio-ethical, political, and health repercussions that come with it. Cloning, perhaps the most famous genetic engineering technology of this time, is the process of producing an organism that is genetically identical to its progenitor by vegetative reproduction or a laboratory technique. It holds several medical benefits that once existed only in dreams, books, and movies. For instance, human therapeutic cloning can provide genetically identical cells from embryonic tissues for regenerative medicine, as well as new, healthy tissues and organs that can be used for transplantation. As such, cloning technologies can actually contribute greatly in the research and development for genetic diseases, as well as serious diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. The capability of generating artificial human cells can also lead to further improvements in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries and burn treatments. Human reproductive cloning, meanwhile, could allow infertile couples to have children with at least some of their DNA. People could even clone themselves to be able to create the “perfect descendant” for them, or even the loved ones that they have lost to ease the pain of bereavement. However, the main argument against cloning is the fact that it is unethical and morally repugnant to use a human clone to save a life. A clone, though artificially made, is still a life form just like any other human being. To produce and later kill it merely for the sake of our needs would therefore be tantamount to committing a sin. Also, early experiments are most likely to result in a number of clinical failures and lead to miscarriage, the necessity of dozens or even hundreds of abortions, or births of massively deformed offspring. But problems with regards to early experiments pale in comparison to the socio-ethical issues that would surely arise should cloning succeed in producing a healthy child, and become part of the repertoire of new reproductive technologies presently offered to those with sufficient funds. Worse, society would be at a lost as to how to treat human clones. Another product of years of extensive research in genetic engineering is gene therapy, which involves the treatment of a genetic disease through the insertion of normal or genetically...
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