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Likewise, aspects of genetic engineering and stem cell technology offer long-term hope for victims of traumatic paralysis through the use of to repair spinal cord damage by providing artificially engineered nerve growth.
Precisely because genetic engineering allows scientists to manipulate the very essence of what makes us who we are, the field has generated significant opposition.
Religious beliefs about the sanctity and "special" character of human life inspired intense political opposition to the wider incorporation of genetic engineering science necessary to reap its full benefit by successfully promoting and lobbying for bans on federal funding on some of the most beneficial applications of genetic engineering (Pollack 2007).
Secular medical ethicists have also raised concerns based on the potential use of genetic engineering for full-scale human cloning. In principle, the same technologies that enable the development of autogenic human tissues and organs are also capable of producing human beings without the necessity of combining the DNA of two parents. In the same way that scientists have already managed to clone sheep and other animals (Saunders 2001), they could also do the same using the genetic material of a single adult individual to produce an identical clone of that person.
In fact, the established medical community has no such plans, because they recognize both the ethical implications of non-medical uses of genetic engineering technology as well as the many formidable technical obstacles already encountered just in animal experimentation (Saunders 2001).
The purposeful manipulation of genetics is a practice that substantially predates modern medicine, and in all likelihood, all of recorded human history. Advances in medical science in the 20th century have allowed scientists to achieve the same end directly, by altering genetic heredity at the molecular level that used to be implemented indirectly through selective breeding.
Already, the evidence suggests that the continued development of genetic engineering science has the powerful potential to revolutionize medical science, primarily by eliminating inheritable disease at the genetic level rather than merely treating it once it manifests itself in symptoms and disabilities. At the same time, antiquated traditional religious beliefs have generated significant opposition to some of the most valuable potential uses of genetic engineering science.
Generally, the fears expressed in that regard reflect little more than scientific ignorance and the absorption of science fiction themes into beliefs about modern science and established medical ethics protocols (Sagan 1997). In many respects, they are no different from the objections of the Medieval Catholic Church to any study of human anatomy and to the response of the Vatican in more modern times to organ donation and transplantation and IVF procedures. Modern medical research is not conducted by "rogue" scientists such as those depicted in science fiction and the field of medical ethics has developed sufficiently to consider legitimate restrictions and guidelines for the myriad potential uses to ensure that practical experimentation does not outpace conceptual understanding and technical limitations with catastrophic or unethical results. In fact, the genuine ethical issue concerns the unfounded opposition to the most beneficial medical breakthroughs since the development of antibiotics shortly after World War II. Ultimately, genetic engineering and all its related technological breakthroughs will eventually prove to be equally beneficial to mankind in the prevention of human disease as traditional surgery and medicine have been to its treatment. REFERENCES
Aldridge, Susan (1998) the Thread of Life: The Story of Genes and Genetic Engineering. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Elias, Paul. Pursuing Healthier Bacon through Genetic Engineering. The Associated Press; Mar. 26/06. Retrieved March 31, 2008, from the U.S.A. Today website, at http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/biotech/2006-03-26-biotech-bacon_x.htm?POE=TECISVA
Gribbin, John. (2002) the Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors. New York: Random House.
Pollack, Andrew. After Stem-Cell Breakthrough the Real Work Begins. The New York Times, Nov. 27/07 (p. F1) Sagan, C. (1997) Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium. New York: Random House
Saunders, Jonathan. Science & Technology: The First Clone. U.S. News & World Report; Dec. 3/01 (pp. 50-63).
Zuckerman, M. (2005) a Bright Hope to Be Realized. U.S. News…[continue]
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