In a world of seemingly endless
advancing technology it is hard to judge the ethics of medical issues,
especially newly developed ones, such as genetic engineering. Many people can
see the usefulness of this technology now and in the world to come. However,
the actual application of this new advancement in the world of medicine
brings up very real and very controversial ethical issues. Genetic Engineering
involves the alteration of specific pairs of genes in the DNA strand. Each
alteration can drastically change that person's physical, mental or possibly
even emotional characteristics. This kind of power places the scientists
potentially in control of almost every aspect of human development. Can this
kind of power be practiced freely among us, with all of human fault and
imperfection? Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein discovered the consequences of
trying to create and alter human life, and he suffered tremendously for his
sins. Genetic engineering contradicts basic human rights, is religiously
unethical and environmentally unsound.
Continued use and marketing of genetic
engineering will lead to a diminished value of human rights and disregard for
human nature. This technology not only has the power to alter our genetic
makeup, but it can also determine our worth. Greedy and unscrupulous industry
will snatch up the technology and proceed to "milk it" for all it is worth.
World Watch magazine published, "...markets will supersede human rights,
supply and demand will determine the value of each person, and economics will
dictate which traits should be adopted"(World Watch July 2002) The world
today is too willing to follow the old saying, "He who has the gold, makes
the rules." Added to their obvious monetary advantage big business will be
able to control the very makeup of our being, if they wield the power of
genetic engineering. The individual as it is now known will fade into a
commodity, a product of science. And what will become of these products of
science? Can they really be considered their parent’s children, just like all
other natural children? According to Bill McKibben, an expert on humanity’s
impact on the environment, "The advent of inheritable genetic
modification...could change the meaning of ‘parent’ as we always thought of
it—and bring to an end our once universal connection between each generation
and its successor" (World Watch July 2002). The decision to apply genetic
engineering today will not only have severe immediate consequences but also
drastic long term consequences for generations to come. Like Dr.
Frankenstein, our pride in our own accomplishments can lead us to rashly
attempt to apply these sciences without thought to the creations we may be
spawning. Frankenstein’s creature was so miserable that he sought, and
succeeded in making everyone around him as miserable as himself. He was
shunned by even his creator. Will the genetically engineered children of the
future be vexed with the same curse? Can they be accepted as a part of this
society? A new class may arise separating the natural from the enhanced. And
if this does occur, who will come out on top? Suddenly in our eagerness to
become an advanced civilization we have jumped back to a period of class
distinction and discrimination. These facts cannot be denied, "That DNA... does
not constitute the ‘essence of human life nor tell us what we are’...are ideas
that have become so strange that they are virtually unthinkable" (Howard 1998).
It is the make up of who we are--our minds’ map. Allowing the practice of
genetic engineering is placing this map in the hands of pirates to seek out
our inner treasure by whatever means necessary. Our very human nature hangs
in the power of genetic engineering.
The practice of genetic engineering is in
direct contradiction with time-honored religious values and ideals, and is
disrespectful to our creator. Once again it must be emphasized that this
decision cannot be made solely on the consideration of our present society.
The society of today is the effect of God’s divine plan for our creation.
Genetic engineering is a direct assault upon His principles. David Bromell, a
superintendent at Christchurch Methodist Mission, suggests, "No aspect of creation
is merely fuel or fodder for human use. As that part of creation which has
evolved to critical self consciousness, we humans bear responsibility for
other forms of life...as caretakers of the planet" (Bromell 1999). It is our
responsibility to preserve all forms of life as God made them in their
perfect state. Although He gave us dominion over the earth he cautioned
against misuse. The idea that humans have the right to alter and control life
because they are further advanced is a rationalization for those who cannot
face the reality of their sins. The truth is that because humans are further
advanced it is their responsibility to protect the planet. Also, the record
of God’s teachings the bible offers enlightening insight, "All things were
made by Him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3).
How can man presume to directly defy the word of God? Prometheus thought
himself higher than the gods and defied their word, also with good
intentions, but he was punished cruelly, as we will also be. The modern
Prometheus, Dr. Frankenstein, was forced to watch the miserable death of all
of those close to him, only to be followed by his own infamous death. The
power of creation was not given to man, and it should not be attempted. The
bible offers additional counsel, "Therefore all things, whatsoever ye would
that men would do to you, do ye even so to them..." (Matthew 7:12). People are
so eager to test the effects of this new technology, but not many of the
scientists themselves are standing in line. It is not right to do to others
what you would not be willing to face yourself.
And if the argument is made that the unborn
cannot speak, let it be considered that had you been the unborn, would you at
least want the choice? Genetic engineering holds a power that is not ours to
neither wield nor control.
Even when not used directly on human beings,
genetic engineering can have an effect by negatively altering the
environment—the basis of human life. By producing stronger plants, more
resistant to bugs, cold, or whatever else imaginable, it does not cure a
problem but rather transfers it elsewhere. World Of Health magazine printed
an article that explained some of the dangers of genetic engineering in
plants, "The development of herbicide resistant plant, for example, only
means that farmers will use still larger quantities of herbicides, critics
say, not an especially desirable trend" (World of Health Nov. 1999). The
increased use of herbicides will only lead to the detriment of the natural plants.
The eventually extinction of all previously natural crop will lead to an even
greater demand on the genetically engineered crops, leaving millions of
people out of work and a few executives very rich. The increased use of
herbicides will also contaminate the food that may be eventually consumed by
humans, causing sickness. Accordingly, it is still uncertain the exact effect
genetically engineered plants themselves will have on humans when consumed.
However, "There are already documented environmental risks from GE crops,
including the transfer of engineered traits to neighboring crops, effects on
non-target insects, impacts on soil-ecology, and potential threats to
endangered species, among others" (Greenpeace 2001). These plants, although
possibly useful in the future, are very detrimental to our environment now.
If they are allowed to multiply the problem will only increase and then the
future may no longer be an issue. There are no sureties that the plants will
not affect humans. Perhaps some of the genetics alterations of the plant
could be transferred to us and we all end up as maroon carrot people.
Therefore, "If ecology is the ‘house rules’ of the planet, then the challenge
that confronts us is not how to change our environment to suit us but how to
adjust our needs and desires to the house rules" (Bromell 1998). Humans are
assumed to be the superior species, yet we are hopelessly dependent upon
plant-life. Plant-life however could get along perfectly fine without our
intervention, perhaps better. As dependents, it is not for us to change a
system that is obviously running smoothly. It is not man’s place to
manipulate nature to their every desire and whim.
Our environment does not need it, our creator
shuns it, and our human nature cannot live with it, therefore genetic
engineering cannot be an acceptable practice in the eyes of this society. We
must open our eyes and look beyond the immediate promise of monetary rewards
and farfetched hopes of "perfect people", to the reality of a future with much
pain, as a penance for the sins committed against ourselves, against nature,
and against God.
• Biomedical ethics. "Genetic Research Threatens
the Concept of Humanness." Kaye, Howard. Greenhaven Press, Inc. San Diego,
• "Genetic Engineering." Bromell, David.
November, 1999. http://www.socialissues.godzone.net.nz/ge/gebromell.htm
• "Genetic Engineering." World of Health. Gale
Group, 2000. Reproduced in Student Resource Center—Health Module. Farmington
Hills, Mich.: Gale Group. 2000. http://www.galenet.com/servlet/SRCHealth/
• "A landmark issue." World Watch. Gale Group,
2000. Reproduced in Student Resource Center—Health Module. Farmington Hills,
Mich.. Gale Group. 2000. http://www.galenet.com/servlet/SRCHealth
• "The human rights perspective." World Watch.
Gale Group, 2000. Reproduced in Student Resource Center—Health Module.
Farmington Hills, Mich.. Gale Group. 2000.
• "Pharm Crops – A Food Accident Waiting to
Happen." Greenpeace. Washington, D.C.. September 2001.