The human body is very complex and it is not uncommon for it to have natural faults. Human genetic engineering or HGE is the manipulation of our genes with these “faults” to essentially make our bodies better. Human Genetic Engineering is broken down into two categories: the first being germline gene therapy which has to do with the alteration of the genome in the sperm and egg cells. These changes are then passed on to descendants. The second is somatic cell gene therapy, meaning that a functional gene is put into our bodies via viral vector to fix a current mutation or fault.
Thesis: HGE has the potential to do many wonders, but there are those who believe that it also could be an abused technology. Should HGE be used be used to better ourselves as species or should it be strictly banned to prevent its abuse? By the end of my speech it is my hope that you have an idea of which way you think this technology should go.
Credibility Statement: My information comes from credible sources and I tried to eliminate any potential bias from them. This topic is important to me because it has the capacity to change my future and affect all of us on a personal level and because of this I avidly researched the topic to learn as much as I could about it.
Preview Statement: During my speech I am going to give the background of genetic engineering, then explain the pros and cons of its use, and lastly cover the ethical concerns of the science.
Transition: To understand where genetic engineering is going, I think it is important to understand where it has come from.
The first path to HGE was paved in 1973 by two scientists named Herb Boyer and Stanely Cohen.
Herb and Stanly used enzymes to cut a bacteria plasmid and insert another strand of DNA in the gap. This offered the mixing of traits between two dissimilar organisms.
This was the invention of recombinant DNA. The first milestone in HGE.
Since 1973, this has been made more controllable by the discovery of new enzymes to cut the DNA differently and by mapping the genetic code of different organisms.
Now that we have a better idea of what part of the genetic code does what, we have been able to make bacteria that produce human insulin for diabetics.
In 1990, a young child with an extremely poor immune system received genetic therapy.
A few of the child’s white blood cells were genetically engineered and reintroduced into her bloodstream.
The new altered cells took over the weaker white blood cells and created a more functional, stronger, immune system.
Transition: To this day relatively few people have had their cells genetically altered but these advances have made the idea of human genetic engineering seem more likely.
We know how far it has come but now how far can it go? This question has been at the epicenter of the human genetic engineering debate. Going over the pros and cons to the science may give some insight on this question.
The number one pro is that HGE can be used to cure illness.
Hereditary diseases could be eliminated by the altering of the mutations through germline gene therapy which would then pass the fixes onto the descendants eliminating the diseases heredity.
Human genetic engineering also has the potential to overcome infertility.
This can be done by using the eggs from a different mother, giving the child three genetic blueprints instead of two.
HGE can (once improved) be used to enhance the intelligence of all people.
This would improve society because we would have less of a chance to make harmful decisions that could harm society as a whole. (Maybe this could fix our budget problems within the government… ;) )
Transition: From a pro standpoint, human genetic engineering sounds very promising however; saying that something can be done and actually accomplishing it are two very different things.
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