Genetic Engineering Of Humans

Read Complete Research Material

Genetic Engineering Of Humans


This paper is based on the topic of genetic engineering of humans. This is one of the most controversial topic facing the American public both on the socio-economic and political fronts. This paper is divided into three sections with the first one providing introduction to the topic. The second section is the main body of this paper that presents the current situation and the ongoing debate regarding the ethics and legality of genetic engineering. The paper ends with a short conclusion, summarizing the main ideas pertaining to the topic.


Genetic engineering presents an exciting range of possibilities. For example, genetic engineering can give plants and crops desirable traits, such as drought resistance and additional nutrients. Such promises are not without their potential perils; some environmental groups raise concerns that the creation and use of these genetically engineered plants amounts to “genetic pollution” and that they should not be released into the environment until there is a full scientific understanding of their long-term impact on the environment and human health (Smith, 25).

The stakes rise even higher when applying genetic engineering to animals or humans or animal-human combinations. For example, by inserting a spider's gene into a goat embryo, a biotech firm created Biosteel, a unique high-performance spider fiber, prized for its toughness, strength, lightness, and biodegradability. Possible applications include the medical, military, and industrial performance fiber markets (Schmid, 74). However, bioethi-cists raise concerns about crossing species boundaries and question whether or not we are creating long-term effects on the environment, inflicting harm on these creatures that we create, and whether or not we should place some ethical, social, and legal controls or reviews on such research (Kahl, 87).


The engineering or combination of animal and human genes (also referred to as “transgenics”) represents a booming aspect of biotechnology. For example, genetically engineered pigs provide potential organs for transplantation (known as “xenotransplan-tation”). Researchers are also exploring the use of cell transplantation therapy for patients with spinal cord injury or Parkinson's disease.

However, several drawbacks to xenotransplantation exist, for example, the small but significant risk of the transmission of usually fatal zoonotic diseases, such as bovine spongi-form encephalopathy (also known as “mad cow disease”). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned xenotransplantation trials using nonhu-man primates until adequate demonstrations that the procedure is safe and sufficient public discussion of the ethical issues take place (Rasko, 10).

Some groups advocate the use of genetic engineering for the enhancement of the human species, but this raises the specter of eugenics, once used as an excuse for genocide and the creation of the “perfect race.” Others call for a ban on species-altering technology enforced by an international tribunal. Part of the rationale for a ban is the concern that such technology could create a slave race, that is, a race of exploited subhumans.

Meanwhile, a genetically engineered hormone, bovine somatotropin (BST), is able to increase milk production in cows; further experiments seem likely to develop a genetic modification to goats that will allow them to produce ...
Related Ads