Genetic Engineering MAG

By Diana Peek, Rockwall, TX

Bam! A 16-year-old takes off running at his high school track meet. He is not a quarter of the way around the track when the first of his five opponents reaches the finish line.

Now, in the 21st century, many people say the world is on the verge of a scientific revolution that brings one of the most ­controversial ideas of all time: genetic ­engineering of humans. I believe this is morally wrong, dangerous, and will lead to problems in our society.

The ethical dilemmas of human genetic engineering are what make this issue so controversial. Humans are trying to play too large a role in the universe. Many people believe that genetic engineering of humans is ­interfering with natural processes like the random selection of genes for looks and talent passed from parents to offspring. Human genetic engineering could let individuals “play God” and choose and manipulate their genes and those of their children. I believe that giving people this power goes against the basic forces of ­nature. All that is really needed is for us to accept ourselves the way we are.

The idea of a divided society in the near future is a troubling and likely consequence of human genetic engineering. Societies have always been divided by varying degrees of inequity and bias. Now, with the emergence of the genetic revolution, society entertains the prospect of a new and more serious form of segregation. One based on genotype.

The destructiveness of prejudice and discrimination is unmistakable. Imagine a world where the rich not only hold all the power, but they become superhuman. They could do things far beyond even the best abilities of normal people. Genetic engineering will bring about a rift between the upper-class citizens who are fortunate enough to afford such technology, and the lower classes who must rely only on their natural abilities. Human genetic enhancement would guarantee that families who can afford it would be able to perpetuate their social and political dominance.

Technology, or lack of enough advanced technology, is another topic of controversy for the genetic engineering of humans. It is interesting to think about the impact technology is having on the world, but is mankind ready for this kind of change?

Genetic engineering has the potential to treat and possibly cure a variety of cancers and chronic diseases, but in reality, this technology is not as promising and reliable as it may seem. Seven years after the first gene-therapy trial on humans, a complete cure for even one patient has not been produced. The technology seems to have an impressive array of benefits, but the science is still in its infancy.

It is simply part of the nature of mankind to want to be better, stronger, healthier, happier, and capable of achieving more. On the other hand, some things are better left unaltered. Change is not ­always good.

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This article has 126 comments.

on Oct. 2 2009 at 9:58 am
AquariusSunandMoon SILVER, Sublette, Illinois
8 articles 17 photos 69 comments
You have a very good point about it 'being none of our business' what other people do. I must disagree however with your view on the health benefits since it is OUR responsibility in the first place to keep ourselves healthy. Too many people blame something or someone else for their problems when really YOU are the only one who can truly make the changes in your life.

on Oct. 2 2009 at 9:12 am
I somewhat agree with the author, it is not okay to alter human genes to better themselves for fame or fortune. I do think that it is okay to alter genes when you have a disease. We should learn to get better at what we do without technology, dont get me wrong technology is great in some cases, but not to make you "Superhuman"

LucyM BRONZE said...
on Oct. 1 2009 at 8:27 am
LucyM BRONZE, Kent, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
90% of my happiness is coming from my pants.

Alright, alright, sorry, inside joke. Okay how about: "If you give a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day; if you set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life." -Terry Pratchett.

Maybe even if genetically creating "super humans" is wrong, it can also be used for good, like eliminateing genetic diseases. For example, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that's very difficult to live with. if we could fix the human genome so that disease no longer existed or couldn't be passed on, wouldn't that be a good thing?

Kate said...
on Sep. 10 2009 at 5:11 pm
I agree with you, Tabitha! Biotechnology and genetic engineering is fascinating and useful.

on Sep. 10 2009 at 4:58 pm
I totally DISAGREE with you, Tabitha P. Not the author. Im with the author 100%. Even if the cheap could be "super human", which I totally doubt because no matter how far you get in science, changing a humans DNA is not walk in the park and its not cheap for them, so it won't be cheap for us. I think that humans should be the way thay are. You don't need to be some imitation of the termanator or something. We are made the way we are supposed to be. We don't need some track runner that can rup 80 miles an hour or more, or someone who could have a super computer for a brain. It's sick and wrong to mix dna of animals and humans. If that was supposed to be that way, there wuld be some. Yes to increasing technology, NO to increasing genetic engineering technology. In the words of Jon Foreman, we are who we should be.

on Aug. 31 2009 at 10:58 am
i dont knw if i have to agree or disagree in genetic engineering coz it has a positive effect at the same time negative effect....

on Aug. 28 2009 at 1:01 am
IsobelFree DIAMOND, Hamilton, Other
71 articles 20 photos 298 comments

Favorite Quote:
"As long as there is open road, the familiar has the most formidable competitor." - Anonymous

I agree with you as well. We were made the way we were for a reason, and to change that just seems wrong. This article reminds me of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, which really opened my eyes to the horrible effects of genetic engineering. The series tells the story of 6 genetically engineered kids who had bird DNA grafted into them as embryos - so that they ended up 98% human, 2% bird. Basically normal-looking children with wings, air sacs, hollow bones, that kind of stuff. Sounds cool at first, but believe me, these kids just want to be normal. You should probably read this if you haven't. It's a great read.

Tabitha Pack said...
on Jul. 31 2009 at 10:04 pm
Tabitha Pack, Spencerville, Ohio
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I don't agree, partially because I aspire to be a genetic engineer myself. First off, as technology advances, the price drops. Genetic engineering won't cost as much as it does now 20 or 30 years from now, so not just the rich will be "super human." It'll be cheaper to have these things done, as well as efficient down the road. Secondly, we, as humans, naturally try to better ouselves and be on top. We are not trying to "play too big of a role" in our vast universe. We wish to be rid of hereditary diseases, so that we and and our children will not be at risk for certain illnesses. Along with this, you can also make a stronger, possibly more intelligent children. GE isn't something that will make people fly and all of the sudden develop physic powers. Improved strength, slightly higher intelligence, and certain diseases expelled is what it's about. Also, bigger corn and more fruitful fruit trees are also a result from GE. GE will help the world, but unfortunately people who understand nothing about it shoot it down and encourage others to do so, resulting in a cloud of controversy. It's not evil at all, and it's not "morally wrong" to try and make yourself and your children better. Sorry to say, but one day GE, such as improved strength and intelligence, might actually be a normal procedure for babies to undergo before they're born. You have good writing though, I just disagree with what you're saying. :/

Chrissy_L GOLD said...
on Jul. 5 2009 at 10:08 pm
Chrissy_L GOLD, Ramsey, New Jersey
13 articles 0 photos 66 comments

Favorite Quote:
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Very interesting, although I am for the advances we make in genetic engineering, especially life saving ones such as "kiara_macnamara" mentioned, one can't help but wonder how it will eventually effect the classes of society themselves. I feel that even nowadays the gap between rich and poor is devastating. Many people brought up in the inner cities and poorer towns do not have the same oppertunities as may other children, regardless of how talented or smart they are. Which seems to entirely contradict our nation's morals, that everyone has equal oppertunities and rights.

And yet, the seperation of people based on genetics may be in the future, resulting from a dominoe-like effect. People wealthy enough for extensive pre-natal care would obviously take it, and if you could potentially prevent any genetic diseases or disorders in your baby, you would. And while you are ensuring your baby is healthy, why not help it be smarter, or stronger, or faster too? It is only human nature for us to want the best for our children, which may in the future create two seemingly different species.

on May. 30 2009 at 12:24 am
sorry to all of you who think that bio engineering is evil, but it does have some potentially life-saving applications. they're developing a new kind of rice called golden rice by taking the genes that produce beta carotine in daffodils and putting them into rice so that they produce it too. and people break down beta carotine into vitamin A, so by putting it in rice, it pretty much solves vitamin A deficiency in under-developed countries because rice is a staple food. wonderin how i know this? im majoring in biochemistry.

on May. 5 2009 at 1:50 pm
Imagine you (or a close friend/relative) has a life-threatening disease. The only cure is to genetically engineer your genes so they're immune to the disease. What would you do then? "Play God" or die?

I disagree with you. Genetic engineering, to a point, can be good. Like what natti.lane said, it can save living things, like papaya. If it is only used when absolutely necessary, it can be a very beneficial thing.

fisherj BRONZE said...
on May. 2 2009 at 11:22 pm
fisherj BRONZE, Hickory, North Carolina
4 articles 0 photos 10 comments
Hate to burst your bubble, but genetic engineering in this day and age is not even in the same universe as the sci-fi ridiculousness paraded about by those who went crawling under their beds after watching the X-files and now masquerade as experts. The reality of genetic engineering is less horrifying and more simply amazing. In the pursuit of saving lives and preserving our world, there is no difference between a GM Grapefruit and a good ol' fashioned road-side fruit stand one. When researchers say things like "We used a daffodil gene" or "A jellyfish gene" they use these phrases to tell us where the genes being were found and from what organisms they were isolated. It Does Not mean that there is some, undeniable 'daffodil'-ness to that daffodil gene, or that by using a 'jellyfish' gene, the resulting plant is somehow part sea creature. The stupefying beauty of the genetic code is that it is universal among living things. Everything that we consider biologically alive (I'm not feeling up to commenting on that debate) has a DNA based genetic code. The same basic molecule rearranged in a practically infinite number of ways. Genetic Engineering would not work otherwise. There is no 'fundamental essence' or 'divine design' that we are 'tampering with' by using our scientific knowledge and capabilities to improve our world. Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, there will be those who take advantage of this technology, but this is of no remote pressing concern and should not, in the least deter of from exploring this phenomenal field of research. Your 'superfast runner' example is not only unrealistic, it's a horrific misinterpretation of the scientific literature and holds no argumentative value. I'm sorry for railing like this, but it needs to be done.

pixiegirl123 said...
on Apr. 8 2009 at 5:31 am
i totally agree with you. we are not meant to play god. if we were we would have been given that power when we were born. this could backfire so bad. it would be like making a disease for enemies. eventually it would come back to bite us in the butt

.dia. said...
on Apr. 1 2009 at 1:03 am
i like your opinions about this subject. i totally agree with everything u've said, and this info is vevy useful to me thnx =]

on Mar. 20 2009 at 2:15 am
i definitely have to agree with you, but not just because it is a dangerous idea, but also because, when we are made, we are made just the way God wants us to be, and we have no right to alter His plan. It's his decision as the one who made the world we live in, and who made the people trying to play his role. So it's ridiculous to even try to put yourself in his position.

on Mar. 18 2009 at 1:44 pm
Whats wrong with it?

I personally think genetic engineering is a good idea.

dogsrock13 said...
on Feb. 5 2009 at 12:29 am
I thought this was awesome! i totally agree with you . well written good job

on Jan. 22 2009 at 9:20 pm
I agree with you all the way. its not natural. If you have ever read the series "Uglies" then you can kind-of understand where im coming from. Technology only gets more and more high tech every day. Soon you'll be able to completely cange the childs appearence and bone structure. The thing you said about the richer families being totally seperat from the not so weathy people is right. People like me who cant afford this (not that i would want to do it to my child) will always have to see how hard my kid works and how the children who were engineered have it so easy. Its unfair and its wrong. It goes against what God gave us.

on Jan. 21 2009 at 6:38 pm
I definitely agree iwth you. People should not be allowed to make their child exactly the way they want it. If they want him or her to be a good sports player, it wouldn't be fair for the people who actually worked and trained for their ability.

on Jan. 21 2009 at 5:36 pm
While the article does have good points and intelligent writing, I would have to disagree. Yes, this would seperate society more,but aren't the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer everyday? And isn't it the choice of the person who wants a gene alteration done anyway? It isn't any of your or my business what they think and want. We all want something, and we can chooose to go and get it, or not. And emerging research shows that only will physical characteristics be able to be changed, but disease prevention will be available. Hearts and lungs will be able to be made more versatile which will greatly improve long-term health and lifespan. I will also admit that there is some risk, but it is the choice that we make that determines what our lives will be like.


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