Genetic ENgineering...

William Bains william at
Tue Mar 11 04:13:44 EST 1997

In article <331DDB77.378F at>, MediaLab User15 <scipk15 at> wrote:

> Stephanie Quek wrote:
> > 
> > What do u think of genetic engineering???
> > Is it moraL or not?? WHY???
> > 
> > Please reply
> the ethics of genetici engineering is very complex.  If one allows the
> possibility of it at all - which I happen to wher do you then draw lines
> - to what extent can you manipulate the DNA of animals ?  What about
> humans ?  Is gene therapy in humans OK ? Is there a reason to
> distinguish between therapeutic and non-therapeutic ends - that is, is
> it OK to work towards helping provide a therapy for cystic fibrosis and
> not right to manipulate genes to produce greater linguistic ability or
> blue eyes ? These and many more questions...

The ethics of genetic engineering (I think you mean the use of late
twentieth century technology to generate genetically distinct organisms)
is very simple: it is the ethics of any other manipulation of organisms.
Why is 'genentic engineering' any different ethically from what humans
have done to dogs and cows and wheat over millenia by less sophisticated
but nevertheless very effective methods? Why is using 'genetic
engineering' to select for your preferred adult phenotype any different
from exposing unwanted babies at night, which has been common and accepted
in some societies since Romulus and Remus? The only answer is that genetic
engineering actually works, which leads us to the odd conclusion that
technology only becomes unethical when it works. Lies and fantasy are
ethical, truth is not. Hmmm, I don't think so.

William Bains

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