Genetic Manipulation

                         Human Genetic Manipulation

                        By Svetlana Levanova, 512 AE

      Genes are  working  portions  of  DNA  and  the  biological  units  of
heredity. Specific genes code for specific traits that are found in a  given
organism. For example, one gene may code for eye  color  while  another  one
may code for shoe size. DNA is an extremely complicated  biological  system.
Many, if not most diseases stem from a defect in one's genetic  code.  There
are two ways for one to get a genetic defect or mutation. A mutation can  be
inherited from one or both parents, or a genetic mutation can be acquired.
      Gene therapy is the process by which cells are supplied  with  healthy
copies of missing, flawed, or desirable genes. Gene therapy can possibly  be
a cure for the genetic mutations that are constantly  occurring  in  nature.
There is a heated discussion in the society about both genetically  modified
food and human gene engineering and the  possible  repercussion  from  them,
which we may be able to get only in a certain period of time.
      Still this burning issue has arguments both in favor  of  and  against
gene technology. The success  of  genetic  manipulation  will  result  in  a
better quality of life for people. Nearly all diseases  can  potentially  be
cured. Cancer will be wiped out, as cancer causing genetic defects  will  no
longer be a problem. As a result of  genetic  testing,  risk  prevention  is
also a benefit. If I find that I am genetically inclined  to  have  a  heart
attack, I can reshape my habits around my genetic  dispositions.  Or,  if  I
know that I have a recessive gene for a disease, I will know not to  have  a
child by another person with that gene. Also we get more than  just  medical
benefits. If it is found out that genes are responsible for the work of  the
mind, than who is to say that someday people won't be able  to  endow  their
children with certain qualities. Many see this as an  advantage.  Before  my
child is even conceived, I can give him brown hair, green eyes,  6  feet  in
height and an intellect to match! In  a  nutshell,  the  benefits  are  long
lives, less disease and tailored children.
      As for the arguments against gene technology, there are  many  ethical
and religious reasons against gene manipulation. Many say that  it  will  be
an  invasion  of  one's  genetic  privacy.  Once  the   technology   becomes
widespread, genetic testing will be mandated, and genetic  information  will
have to be disclosed. Many  people  don't  want  to  know  about  their  own
genetic destiny, let alone allow others  to  know.  The  fact  that  genetic
information may one day become easily accessible leads  to  the  possibility
of genetic discrimination and violation of genetic privacy. People can  most
certainly be judged and oppressed on the basis  of  genetic  information  as
well as skin color. Why should I hire a  man  who  has  a  genetic  risk  of
developing heart disease? Why should I offer him insurance?
      Many people feel that  genetic  technology  will  have  organizational
problems. For example, that the practice will be poorly regulated  and  that
people can do as they please with developing genetic engineering.  Also,  it
is feared that this new technology will be available only  to  the  wealthy,
for their own benefit and exploitation.  People  fear  also  the  fact  that
genetically modified  humans  will  decrease  the  diversity  of  the  human
species, which will make the human population susceptible to diseases.  This
is a far-fetched notion, but the possibility exists. Finally, it  is  feared
that creating new types of people is undermining God's natural  order.  Just
as above it was stated as a benefit, many also  view  having  the  power  to
"select" your child as a problem. They feel the humans should not  have  the
power to create a child like it is some sort of machinery.  Life  should  be
held in higher regard than that.
      Human curiosity and innovation will always manage to conjure  up  some
sort of scientific breakthrough. Genetic manipulation is no exception.  Like
all new technologies, it has its pros and cons that  must  be  weighed.  The
potential for reward and for disaster are both great  in  this  issue.  With
sufficient  regulation  and  responsibility,   the   benefits   of   genetic
manipulation can far outweigh the drawbacks. It is a situation that must  be
handled delicately.