-On Genetic Engineering-
What is Genetic Engineering? Ask anyone on the street and they can tell you they’ve heard of genes; ask anyone what they are and you’ll get an answer ranging from heredity to heresy. But what really is Genetic Engineering, and why does it incite such passion in the modern world?
Genetic Engineering is the term given to the process of altering living DNA, the blue-print of who we are. It involves taking a piece, a splice, of DNA from an organism and then replacing a portion of another organism’s DNA with it. Some even theorized it possible to clone an entire organism, an exact replica of the original; in the 5th of July 1996 at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland, that theory was proven in Dolly the Sheep, the first ever organism cloned from a single cell.
In recent years, Genetic Engineering has been making tremendous progress, even claiming to replace damaged body parts, organs, and even entire human bodies in the near future. Consequentially with great promise comes great reward, and with it great risk and controversy.
One such controversy, and perhaps one of the most sensational, is the use of Stem Cells. These unique cells have the ability to form into any cell of the original they were taken from. The potential for this extraordinary discovery has been recognized wildly by the scientific community, this being curing cancer, replacing lost limbs, healing paralysed patients, restoring lost eyesight, and even the revitalization of a worn out body, the likes often thought to exist only in science fiction.
The only problem is, viable Stem Cells can only be obtained from live human foetuses.
Not to say there are no other sources of Stem Cells, but for these sensational therapies to be conducted, there are two requirements: One being that the Stem Cells must be self-replicating, and the other being it should be able to replace any form of damaged tissue; characteristics shared only by the Stem Cells of a Blastocyst, an early form of a the human foetus.
With this controversy in light, it was only a matter of time before the Pro-Life and Catholic masses started putting their proverbial foot down in protest. ‘Kill a child to save another’, they called it, and not without good reason. Extracting Stem Cells from a living foetus has more often than not proved fatal to the unborn child, and extremely damaging to the mother, emotionally and physically.
While the most avid of supporters of Genetic Engineering using Stem Cells insist that such a primitive collection of cells can hardly be called a child much less a human being, the pioneers of this new technology are actively developing alternate methods of advancing this promising branch of science and medicine. Some opt to use animal substitutes in hopes of lessening the moral demand upon them by society, unlocking new therapy options in veterinary care in the process. Some are developing ways to harvest Stem Cells from foetuses in an ‘ethical’ manner - that is - not killing both mother and child the process.
The future for Genetic Engineering Technology still remains to be seen, that much is fact. Whether the risk will outweigh the reward, or that risk will one day be completely eliminated is something to look forward to. They say ‘Progress is born of Necessity’, and in this case, progress will indeed be a necessity in the coming years for the modern man.
This document was started and accomplished on 05.21.12 by Alex Revamonte II for the sole purpose of being a Sample Article