Issue #2- Genetic Modification
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It can remove undesirable traits. It can remove genetic diseases. It can even allow your parents to decide your hair color. What is it? Genetic
A few months ago, I was flipping through channels and stumbled upon John Stossel's special, "Tampering with Nature." Watching it, I began to learn just how far technology is going. Afterwards, I couldn't help but wonder about it. Should there be limits? Is this right or wrong?
Let's take a look at what they can do with this. Genetic modification can do many things, from giving tomato plants the gene to fight off pests, to deciding what you will look like. In this issue, I'd like to take a look at the genetic modification of humans.
First off, we are talking about genetically modifying embryos. In other
words, we can't do any of the following to ourselves; it's too late for that. Also, keep in mind that we have the technology to do this, but it hasn't been perfected.
Using genetic modification, we can:
-remove genetic defects
-remove genetic diseases
-remove undesirable traits
-make cosmetic changes
-add desirable traits
Removal of defects and diseases speak for themselves. Undesirable traits include anything from alcoholism to diabetes. Cosmetic modification can change your hair style, color, and growth, eye color, skin color, and build. By adding desirable traits, we can promote health, and, possibly, decide our child's IQ
So, where do we draw the line? We can't just say there are no limits. If we don't draw the line somewhere, we're going to have Einsteins walking around. Everyone will be the practically the same. If you've ever read "The Giver," you know what I mean. No one will be very unique.
I, personally, am fine with removing undesirable traits, genetic diseases,
and genetic defects. I know I'd be much happier if I had been born with
straight teeth, for one. By removing these types of things, people will be
healthier and our lifespan can be increased.
Where do I draw the line? I would definitely have to draw the line at
cosmetic modification and the addition of desirable traits. We shouldn't be able to do these things. It'd be like ordering your child from a catalog. "I'll take the skinny one with the blonde hair and blue eyes. It has to be a girl. Oh, and make her a genius will you?"
Actually, when you think about it, we really shouldn't be fixing anything in the first place. Maybe humans really are taking it to far. While tampering with nature can bring good, it comes at a price. I'm all for improving human health and feeding the starving children in Africa, but maybe we need to rethink all this.
Perhaps the line should really be drawn according to this question: "Does
this help mankind?" Golden rice will feed starving people all over the world, but giving you child green eyes does nothing but show how vain we all are. Think about it.
-Jen (August 3, 2001)
(I could possibly do an article entirely on the genetic modification of food. Cloning, however, is definitely a future topic.)
Updating: I bring out a new issue every other week.