The controversy arises from both the techniques and aims of gene therapy. Gene therapy attempts to correct the “deleterious effect(s) of a genetic disorder”(Wheale
Genetic Engineering and the End of the World As We Know It
“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” — From a Song by REM
Having completed the Human Genome Project, scientists now seek to uncover the secrets of the human proteome (Begley 1). It is “guesstimated” that the proteome, meaning all the proteins, will involve up to 1000 times more data than the genome did. But this again brings us to the question: What will the scientific and medical communities do with all this information?
deCode Genetics, partnered with Roche Holding of Basel, wants Iceland’s genes to examine 25-35 common genetically linked diseases (Marshall 539). deCode has identified the genetic sequence responsible for essential tremor and has plans to study alcoholism, diabetes and schizophrenia, among others. Iceland is a “perfect” site for this research due to its relatively isolated gene pool and well kept genealogical records dating back about 1,000 years (Marshall 539). This would seem like a great step for humanity, to have the ideal laboratory for studying and curing genetic diseases, but what’s to say that the findings won’t be used for eradicating such things as helpful mutations (Rifkin 550)?
Genetic screening for certain conditions is already a reality, along with some genetic engineering, so human genetic engineering is literally right around the corner. While this technology would be beneficial to some people, for example the prevent of cystic fibrosis, it’s also feasible that, in light of the prejudices already rampant in society, people will be discriminated against for their genetics. According to Jeremy Rifkin, part of the problem with biotechnology and genetic engineering is the terminology itself (550). Rather than using the terminology “variation” or “mutatio…
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Rifkin, Jeremy. “The Ultimate Therapy: Commercial Eugenics on the Eve of the Biotech Century.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 7th ed. Ed.
Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. Addison Wesley Longman; New York, 2000. 542-55.
Watson, James D. “The Human Genome Project: A Personal View.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 7th ed. Ed.
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