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Human Genetic Engineering: Dreams and Nightmares Essay

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Technological breakthroughs and advancements have occurred so rapidly since the dawn of the information age, that one often overlooks the great power humanity holds over the building blocks of life itself. While our understanding and mapping of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequences has been slow coming since Friedrich Miescher’s isolation of the double-helix shaped molecule, efforts in recent decades to map the human genome have opened many doors to the potential manipulation of life’s basic elements. By 2001, this potential had been turned into a reality, as scientists had confirmed the healthy birth of the first genetically altered babies . This successful modification has since opened the floodgates of possibility with regard to human genetic modification (Whitehouse). But alongside this vast potential comes equally vast ethical controversy. For instance, should the potential to give children a life without disease be seen as merely a neat possibility, or should it be viewed as a social obligation? Do parents hold the ultimate right to alter their unborn child’s DNA in whatever way they see fit? Or should every fetus hold the right to a life without genetic modification? There are various positive and negative aspects to genetic human engineering. And an analysis of these potentials must be made in order to make any claims regarding the ethics of the practice.
Human genetic engineering holds the potential to affect great change on the human species. The first successful gene therapy trials aimed to remove a gene responsible for severe combined immunodeficiency disorder (SCID). Unfortunately, by 2007, forty percent of these patients had been diagnosed with leukemia . However, to date, gene therapy has restored the immune syste...


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...ig. 2005. Film. 10 Feb 2014.
Evans, J. H. Playing god: Human genetic engineering and the rationalization of public bioethical debate. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.
Hindmarsh, Richard. "The Problems Of Genetic Engineering." Peace Review 12.4 (2000): 541-547. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.
Murray, Peter. "US SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT GENES CAN BE PATENTED ." Singularity Hub 22 04 2013, n. pag. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. .
Whitehouse, David . "Genetically altered babies born." BBC News [UK] 04 05 2001, n. pag. Web. 05 March. 2014. .
Winston, Morton E., and Ralph D. Edelbach. Society, Ethics, and Technology. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 2012. Print.



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