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Should We Play God?

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Should we play God?

Imagine a world where a person could change his or her genetic structure and redirect the future course of life in their child and themselves. This is a very real possibility through genetic engineering or gene therapy. In the future, it could be just as easy to change your physical or mental health, as it is to get flu shot now. What has gone largely unnoticed is the unprecedented lethal threat of genetic engineering to life on the planet. It now seems likely, unless a major shift in international policy occurs quickly, that the major ecosystems that support the biosphere are going to be irreversibly disrupted, and that genetically engineered viruses may very well lead to the eventual demise of almost all-human life. In the course of the major transformations that are on the way, human beings will become transformed, both intentionally and unintentionally, in ways that will make us something different from what we now consider human. Heedless of the dangers, we are rushing full speed ahead on almost all fronts. Some of the most powerful multinational chemical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural corporations have staked their financial futures on genetic engineering.

The idea behind Gene Cell Therapy is to be a cure all by altering the human DNA. In non-technical language, we will use the flu virus. Imagine that scientists have discovered the one specific gene or chromosome that makes the lemur immune to the flu virus. They in turn want to "add" it to the human DNA in an attempt to make humans immune to the virus.

That accomplishment would be awesome but what will happen when made available to the public? The desire for an elite race and Social Darwinism will once again become rampant. Consider another layer of this gene therapy - cloning. Is that not like playing God?

The affects of gene therapy are long lasting which will affect your future generations as well as your own health. With this in mind, I ask a pointed question. Should scientist be playing God? My answer is no. Some people feel that gene therapy is a terrific discovery that could greatly improve the human population by giving individuals with disabilities a glimmer of hope. However, on the other side of the coin there are those that believe that we have no business playing God. The fear felt by those beliefs is that by manipulating the human DNA there will be devastating effects to the human gene pool and this newfound knowledge will lead to further misuse, which will be along the same lines as Hitler and his superior race.

What is gene therapy? First discovered in the mid 1970's researchers were able to isolate certain genes from DNA. In the 1980s, the term genetic engineering or gene therapy came about and propelled research further. Genetic engineering refers to the artificial modification of the genetic code of a living organism. Genetic engineering changes the fundamental physical nature of the organism, sometimes in ways that would never occur in nature. Genes from one organism are inserted in another organism, most often across natural species boundaries. Some of those effects are made public, but most are not. The effects of genetic engineering, which we know about, are usually short-term, specific, and physical. The effects not publicly known are often long-term, general, along with mental. Long-term effects may be either specific (death of a particular species or the introduction of a new disease organism) or general.

By using gene therapy, we can go to the base of a disorder instead of using drugs to alleviate symptoms. Some diseases that have been treated include adenosine demeans deficiency (ADA Deficiency), familial hypercholesterolemia, cystic fibrosis, cancers that include melanoma, Neuro-blastoma, brain tumors, and AIDS. (National Cancer Institute)

If genetic engineering falls in the wrong hands, disaster will surely follow! Think back to Adolf Hitler. Would he have succeeded in exterminating the ' in-superior' race, if this technology were present? If a scientist desired a 'perfect race', they may genetically alter human DNA to create a smarter, sexier, more athletic race. This genetically engineered person will be recognized as a normal human, therefore they will marry, then their descendants will continually multiply passing the artificial genetic code from generation to generation. Human DNA structure would not be, as we know it now for it will have been wiped out.

The principle question to be answered is whether we have the right to put an additional fearful load on generations not yet born. Our time is cursed with the necessity for feeble men, acting as experts, to make enormously far-reaching decisions. Is there anything more far-reaching than the creation of forms of life? You can stop splitting the atom; you can stop visiting the moon; you can stop using aerosols; you may even decide not to kill entire populations by the use of a few bombs. Nevertheless, you cannot recall a new form of life. Once you have constructed a viable E. coli cell to carry a plasmid DNA into a piece of eukaryotic DNA that has been spliced, it will survive you, your children, and your children's children. An irreversible attack on the biosphere is something so unheard-of, so unthinkable to previous generations, that I could only wish that mine had not been guilty of it. (Chargoff 189)

Scientists can mix species for example creating a half-human half goat. They are also capable of making headless human for organ farms, but will it be used for only that? A geneticist has recently proposed genetically engineering headless humans to be used for body parts. Some prominent geneticists have supported his idea. (Slack)

Genetic engineering has produced two forms of gene therapy treatments. They differ in the consequences they have for the patients. The first form is somatic cell gene therapy. In this process, faulty genes are replaced by the correct sequence of genes. The body can then make the correct protein and ultimately eliminate the faulty gene causing the disease. It is only necessary to treat enough cells to provide adequate amounts of the correct protein so that some reach the site of action ((Macer). Somatic gene therapy is only corrective to the patient and cannot be passed on to the next generation. This is because any rearranging of genes happens in the somatic or non-reproductive cells ((Biotechnology Industry Organization)).

The next form of gene therapy takes place in the reproductive cells or germ line cells. The term germ-line therapy is used to describe the form of gene therapy where the correct gene is inserted into the reproductive



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