Social Implications

Ethical Issues: The Future?

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Genetic engineering has already created possibilities that resemble science fiction movies more than reality. What is to come in the future? Now that this technology has been developed, we have the power to do more than most people can imagine. What will genetic engineering bring in the next century? How far will we take this technology?

With increased genetic control parents will have much more influence over the genetic makeup of their children. It is becoming increasingly possible, as seen with our food products, to determine "favorable" traits and incorporate these into a new organism. Should this be happening with children? Is it a woman's right to have control over the genetic makeup of her offspring? Or is it the child's right to be created naturally? How far should reproductive rights be taken in terms of genetic manipulation? We are moving from a state of "having" babies to "making" babies. These children are clones and research has shown that these children think in very different manners than natural children (McGee, 1999).

Public health programs are now employing genetic testing to determine the existence of genes associated with negative traits. This practice is creating pressure for people not to pass on these unfavorable genes. Genetics have the ability to determine the traits and possible health problems of the human population (McGee, 1999). This means that a small part of the population will be deciding what is and is not favorable and healthy. With this increased control, scientists will be able to create a homogenous, "perfect" population. This also has the potential to create an elitist genetically modified population, as these technologies will most likely be expensive.

Another concerning issue is the fact that most people are not aware of the practice of genetic engineering and do not understand the consequences of it. Although most of our commercialized food products are now genetically engineered, the majority of the population is not aware of what they are eating. If the majority of the population is unaware of scientist's activities, how is it possible to change or control these actions? Without awareness, these activities can go on unabated.

Without a check on genetic engineering, the future of this technology is highly uncertain. We are altering all natural life on the planet and permanently changing genetic makeup of organisms. Nothing is natural anymore. Will these changes create our own demise?

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