The Light and Dark Side of DNA Technology
As with most modern advances, DNA technology has opened the door to a vast new world of discovery. On the positive side, DNA aids us in the fight against disease, such as cancer, and many genetic disorders, such as muscular dystrophy. Yet many in society are concerned with the ethical issue of using DNA in matters such as cloning, genetic tampering, and the irratication of less than perfect fetuses resulting selective human reproduction.
Most diseases have a genetic basis, therefore if scientists are able to locate the genes that are responsible for diseases, it would aid in the treatment and prevention of disease. DNA is the building block of life, and therefore it is the base of everything that is living. James Watson, a well known scientist and founder of the Human Genome Project, has this input on genetics. “If you can study life from the level of DNA, you have a real explanation for its processes” (Watson, 530). Watson believes that if scientists are able to get the complete description of a bacterium, it would make an extraordinary moment in our history. Tinkering with Destiny written by Shannon Brownlee, Gareth Cook, and Viva Hardigg, includes a perfect example of disease prevention through genetic research. The Kostakis family learned that due to their genetic makeup family members were extremely subseptable to colon cancer, even those in their teens, however thanks to modern genetic research, measures were taken to prevent the cancer from forming , thus sparing the lives of many in their family.
“Parents in the biotic century will be increasingly driven to decide whether to take their chances with the traditional genetic lottery using their own unaltered egg and sperm, knowing their children may inherit some “undesirable” traits, or undergo corrective gene changes on their sperm, egg, embryo, or fetus, or substitute egg or sperm from a donor through in vitro fertilization and surrogacy arrangements” (Rifkin, 547). In this upcoming century of scientific advances, a parent’s failure to correct any genetic defects in utero might just be considered a heinous crime. This seems completely outrageous, however mothers have already been held liable for giving birth to crack cocaine addicted babies and babies with fetal alcohol syndrome. Yet no crime is committed if that same mother aborts the fetus. Our society believes that a parent has a responsibility to provide a safe and stable surroundings for their unborn child. Will this belief be carried over to include genetic altering of a fetus? “Proponents of human genetic engineering argue that it would be cruel and irresponsible not to use this powerful new technology to eliminate serious ‘genetic disorders’ ” (Rifkin, 548).
There are always questions asked when science advances. Is there a limit to how far one goes? Should we continue to advance and let science determine our fate? Is it fair for a doctor or scientist to tell a person at age ten that they will develop colon cancer at age thirty based on their family genes? Should society allow this area of medicine to continue or stop it now? Genetic research has come a long way, and yesterdays advances criticized by many in the past are now heralded for their contribution to the cure of cancers and many diseases. Caution is necessary in some instances, but let us not be quick to shoot down modern medical advances before we see what benefits can be attained that will benefit the human race.
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