Life Science Current Event Report Current Events Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Life Science Current Event Report

Current Events on Cloning and Evolution

Topic and Date: The Ethics of Egg Manipulation (Evolution), August 27, 2009

Nature

The article "The Ethics of Egg Manipulation" published in Nature investigates the research challenges in reducing diseases that can be identified prior to egg fertilization. Scientists have questioned if it is necessary for humans to give birth to offspring that are at high risk for genetic diseases. Their hypothesis is: If we remove the bad parts of the DNA from one egg and replace it with good DNA from another egg and use the new egg for in vitro fertilization, can we reduce the number of babies born with disease (Anonymous, 2009)?

Current experiments have been performed on monkeys. The experiments have been successful and scientists believe the research is ready to move to humans, but many laws are in place to deter this type of experimentation. Two main issues prevent further experiments: (a) the destruction of eggs with bad DNA is against the moral values of many groups and (b) financially supporting embryonic experiments with federal funds is illegal (Anonymous, 2009).

Eventually the eggs will be fertilized in order to see if the transfer of DNA can successfully create a new human embryo after fertilization. The fertilized egg will need to be implanted in a woman who is willing to participate in the research. Currently, federal funding for projects that use human embryos is banned. Making things even more difficult is the fact that with the exception of New York State, women cannot be paid to donate their eggs to research. Without human eggs to experiment on, without the ability to bring the eggs to term and see a child born and watch the child grow up, followed by the monitoring of his or her health over many years, the experimentation cannot be completed (Anonymous, 2009).

Relating Scientific Progress to Everyday Life

By making changes to the DNA in unfertilized egg cells, humans are modifying their own evolutionary process. Eventually some diseases can be eliminated entirely from civilization. Depending on the future of research, parents could possibly have the chance to make many cell-level decisions about their child, further changing the evolution of mankind. I believe that we will reach this point within my lifetime. This technology will start by addressing disease prevention, but when it becomes commercialized, people will soon be seeking to use the technology for more ethically questionable purposes, such as gender selection, adjusting a child's height potential, choosing eye and hair color, and much more.

There are definitely many benefits to using this technology, but selective reproduction requires morally questionable research and will quickly lead to the potential for entirely unethical real world applications. Advancements related to this technology could have positive advantages in China, where families limited to one child often abandon female infants hoping to have a boy next time. Instead of abandoning their babies after birth, parents could select their preferred gender, though that could quickly shift the nation's gender balance even further.

If I had the opportunity to ensure my child would be free from genetic diseases, I do not know how I could refuse the option. What parent would not want to make his or her child's life as free from pain and suffering as much as possible? The problem is acknowledging the ethically challenging research that must occur before this option becomes available. Our willingness to embrace the resulting technology makes us all responsible for the loss of life that will occur during the research that must be performed to perfect the technology. Once society crosses the line, deciding that we are okay with taking charge of our own evolution, where do we draw the next line? What will we turn a blind eye to after…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Anonymous. (2009, August 27). The ethics of egg manipulation. Nature, 460(7259), 1057. Retrieved from ProQuest Database.

Anonymous. (2008, November 13). Clones of the dead. Nature, 456(7219), 144. Retrieved from ProQuest Database.

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