(After watching a documentary entitled DNA: The Promise and the Price)
A hundred years ago, the myth about Dr. Frankenstein having spawned a new human life etched a hint that Frankenstein’s creation would linger as an imaginative story only written by Mary Shelley with no evidence at all to believe it could be possible.
But that was years and years ago. It is amazing to think that science continually move on to a different limelight where everything could be possible beyond our imagination-genetic engineering, gene therapy, human cloning and more advances in the field of science and technology. After all these amazing features, what’s next to be looked forward?
As stated by the Center for Genetics and Society, many applications of human genetic technology are benign and hold great potential for preventing disease and alleviating suffering. Other applications open the door to a human future more horrific than our worst nightmares. We need to distinguish between these, and support the former and oppose the latter. The two technologies of most concern are human cloning and inheritable genetic modification. And it was because of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, that the cloning obsession in science started.
Genetic engineering refers to a set of technologies that are being used to change the genetic makeup of cells and move genes across species boundaries to produce novel organisms. The techniques involve highly sophisticated manipulations of genetic material and other biologically important chemicals. In 1976 George Wald, Nobel Prize winning biologist and Harvard professor commented that Recombinant DNA technology [genetic engineering] faces our society with problems unprecedented not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. It places in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of some three billion years of evolution…. It presents probably the largest ethical problem that science has ever had to face. Our morality up to now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all that we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the bargain. For going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.
Of all the given advantages of genetic engineering, in the overwhelming number of cases, the price seems too high. In order to ensure mega profits for multinational corporations into the next century, we will have to mortgage the biosphere, seriously compromise life on the planet, and even risk losing what it means to be a human being. Genetic engineering poses serious risks to human health and to the environment. It raises serious ethical questions about the right of human beings to alter life on the planet for the benefit and curiosity of a few.
Maybe we had explored science enough. We have gone a long way and I think we have proven how intelligent and different we are as compared to other organisms. It is definitely amazing to think that we can create a new life within our hands and manipulate genetics. But this all about knowing our limitations as human beings.