Human Genetic Engineering
Thesis: HGE has the potential to do many wonders, but there are those who believe that it also could be an abused technology. Should HGE be used be used to better ourselves as species or should it be strictly banned to prevent its abuse? By the end of my speech it is my hope that you have an idea of which way you think this technology should go. Credibility Statement: My information comes from credible sources and I tried to eliminate any potential bias from them.
This topic is important to me because it has the capacity to change my future and affect all of us on a personal level and because of this I avidly researched the topic to learn as much as I could about it. Preview Statement: During my speech I am going to give the background of genetic engineering, then explain the pros and cons of its use, and lastly cover the ethical concerns of the science.
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Transition: To understand where genetic engineering is going, I think it is important to understand where it has come from. I. The first path to HGE was paved in 1973 by two scientists named Herb Boyer and Stanely Cohen.
A. Herb and Stanly used enzymes to cut a bacteria plasmid and insert another strand of DNA in the gap. This offered the mixing of traits between two dissimilar organisms. 1. This was the invention of recombinant DNA. The first milestone in HGE. B. Since 1973, this has been made more controllable by the discovery of new enzymes to cut the DNA differently and by mapping the genetic code of different organisms. 1. Now that we have a better idea of what part of the genetic code does what, we have been able to make bacteria that produce human insulin for diabetics.
C. In 1990, a young child with an extremely poor immune system received genetic therapy. 1. A few of the child’s white blood cells were genetically engineered and reintroduced into her bloodstream. 2. The new altered cells took over the weaker white blood cells and created a more functional, stronger, immune system. Transition: To this day relatively few people have had their cells genetically altered but these advances have made the idea of human genetic engineering seem more likely. II. We know how far it has come but now how far can it go?
This question has been at the epicenter of the human genetic engineering debate. Going over the pros and cons to the science may give some insight on this question. A. The number one pro is that HGE can be used to cure illness. 1. Hereditary diseases could be eliminated by the altering of the mutations through germline gene therapy which would then pass the fixes onto the descendants eliminating the diseases heredity. B. Human genetic engineering also has the potential to overcome infertility. 1.
This can be done by using the eggs from a different mother, giving the child three genetic blueprints instead of two. C. HGE can (once improved) be used to enhance the intelligence of all people. a. This would improve society because we would have less of a chance to make harmful decisions that could harm society as a whole. (Maybe this could fix our budget problems within the government… 😉 ) Transition: From a pro standpoint, human genetic engineering sounds very promising however; saying that something can be done and actually accomplishing it are two very different things.
III. The cons of HGE may be just as strong as the pros. A. The use of genetics to prevent illness is a great theory but scientists have no way of knowing where a new gene will go once reintroduced into the DNA strand. 1. The science is far from perfected and sequences of genes carry out a number of different functions so when trying to alter one thing in the genome scientists can accidentally alter many others. B. The process of HGE itself can generate new mutations. 1. These new mutations would be passed onto the future generations. 2.
It is a fear that with human genetic engineering that there is just simply too much room for error and we could create an entire population of genetically mutated humans. C. Lee Silver, the author of the book Remaking Eden proposed the concept that HGE can create an even bigger gap between classes. 1. Those who could afford genetic alterations would reap all of the benefits and those who couldn’t afford it would be genetically inferior. 2. Ultimately this would lead to a class system of rich genetically engineered “super-humans” and poverty stricken “normal” humans. Transition: The genetic engineering of humans holds many ethical concerns.
IV. One of the ethical concerns of HGE is the curing of infertility. A. As I mentioned earlier infertility can be overcome by using eggs from a third party mother giving the child of such a procedure a third genetic blueprint. 1. The main concern is that only time will tell what the effects of this third blueprint will be in the descendants of person who had three genetic blueprints. This could consequently affect the entire human race. B. Another ethical concern is that we are “playing God” by altering the human genome and basically creating humans the way we want to. C.
The last ethical concern is that genetic engineering holds the potential for parents to “assemble” their children genetically. Transition: Even if human genetic engineering is not completely predictable many think that it is time to start implementing the technology on a grander scale. Conclusion: Signpost: In this I conclude that although HGE can be radical advancement to ourselves as a species, it has yet to be perfected and its outcomes to be predicted. Summary: Boyer and Cohen started something that today has the capacity to destroy hereditary diseases, cure infertility, and improve the intelligence f society for its safety. It also has the capacity to generate new and unpredictable mutations, create a gap between classes in society, and altering not just one thing in the genome but many without know the repercussions. Lastly it has garnered many ethical concerns from “playing God”, to third genetic blueprints, and parents assembling their children genetically. Clincher: I end with this: if we decide that the genetic engineering of humans is in fact too dangerous would there be a way for us to stop it?