Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Dangers of Genetic Engineering

Genetically manipulating genes to create certain traits in a human embryo is impossible at this point. Perhaps it will never happen. It is not inevitable in the long run, as some scientists pragmatically point out. (Embgen). It is, however, something that dominates modern day discussion concerning genetics and therefore must be addressed with care and consideration.

There are many ways that gene manipulation could come about. Advances in spermatogenesis as well as the field of assisted reproductive technology, as seen in In Vitro Fertilization clinics, point toward methods that could house the systematic alteration of genetic information in reproductive cells. Transplantation of sperm stem cells, embryo biopsy, and genetic testing of sperm and eggs are also pathways to future developments. A process that is under observation is called blastomere separations, where an 8-16 celled embryo is split into four or eight sections of two cells each (Notre Dame). The largest problem in the attempt to alter genes is finding a vector to insert the gene into the chromatin (Discover, 63). Some procedures that are successfully occurring today are selective embryo development in IVF clinics, and cytoplasmic transfer, which involves taking cytoplasm from young eggs and placing it into an older egg. This can be seen as a crude sort of germ line gene transfer, due to the few short-lived genes that can be found in cytoplasm (Discover). These are all processes which are intended to produce healthy, normal children.

Before discussing anything else, a clear definition of “health” must be specified. Health is absence of diseases; but more than that, it is the state in which a person flourishes, in…

… middle of paper …

Publishers, Inc., 1997).

Web Pages:

1. Ethics and Genetic Paper:

2. What’s Morally Wrong with Eugenics:

3. Designer Genes Site:

4. Choices and Challenges:

The Perils of Genetic Screening and Gene Therapy

The Perils of Genetic Screening and Gene Therapy

When we contemplate manipulation of the human genome, we tend to frame the debate in terms of the potential consequences for our children, or our children’s children. These are the individuals whose lives, and whose genes, are most likely to be effected by the rapidly advancing field of human genetics. Thus, while generations have always been conscious about the external environment bequeathed to their children, we of this generation may have to consider the additional question of what will we leave inside our children. As parents, do we have the responsibility or the right to screen against or select for certain genetically determined traits in our children? Here, I argue that giving parents the ability to genetically modify their children will expose society to several negative risks, including normalization of individuals based on societal prejudice, exacerbation of socio-economic inequity, and elimination of genetic diversity.

There are at least two types of motivation parents may have for the genetic modification of their children. The more readily justifiable motive is the elimination of a gene responsible for a debilitating or life-threatening disease. A genetically linked disease would inevitably cause suffering. For that reason, parents, health professionals, and bioethicists may agree that to knowingly bring a child into the world with such a disease would be irresponsible and cruel, especially when a means for prevention in the form of genetic manipulation is available. However, except in rare cases, the distinction between a genetically “healthy” individual and a diseased or disabled one is not entirely straightforward. The distinction is clouded b…

… middle of paper …

…e as a result of genetic modification demand that parents who undertake their rights to use this technology do so with the utmost care and consideration. To promote an appropriate level of concern, we must strike a balance between individual choice and government regulation of the technology. An appropriate balance would both acknowledge the many dangers associated with the technology and respect the right of individuals to influence the lives of their children for the better.


[1]Pernick, Martin S. 2000. Defining the Defective: Eugenics, Esthetics, and Mass Culture in Early Twentieth-century America. In Sloan, Phillip R., ed. Controlling Our Destines. Pp.187-208. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana. back

[2] Ridley, Matt. 1999. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. HarperCollins Publishers, New York

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.