Thoughts on Genetic Engineering
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The most commonly supported form of genetic engineering in humans is its use to cure diseases like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and the like. Most often, this form of genetic engineering is used to justify the technology. With the power to end the massive suffering caused by genetic diseases, and gene-related diseases like cancer, there is a strong argument that it is our moral duty to explore this area of science and use it. If this were the only use of genetic engineering, there probably wouldn't be as much of an argument beyond the question of whether or not humans should change the basic code of life, but it is not the only way genetic engineering can, or is used.
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Created in the 1960's by a popular snack company, the Lenape potato produced perfect potato chips. They were crispy, and tasted good. The only drawback was that they were also highly toxic. By cross-breeding two different types of potatoes, the company had accidentally created one that produced many times the natural defensive chemicals that potatoes create to ward off pests. People who ate the new potato chips got sick. Although this was a case of cross-breeding the traditional way that farmers have been doing for centuries, it is also a cautionary tale of unintended consequences which can and do occur in genetic engineering.
(By the way, don't eat green potatoes, they contain high amounts of the same defensive chemical.)
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From Gray's Anatomy, 1918 Edition
Who would control such technology? Who would benefit from it? Would it be restricted, by price, to the rich? Would everyone have access? Could companies require their employees to, say, acquire a gene that makes them need sleep less so they can work more hours? Is it even ethical to explore this possibility? These questions and many more will need to be answered by populations and governments as we move forward into the future.
Do the benefits outweigh the other issues?