Genetic Engineering: Present and Future
Basic understanding of genes and processes of reproduction has advanced rapidly in recent years and generated speculation about the potential manipulation of human genes and human reproduction. Both enthusiasts who seek to eliminate certain diseases or undesirable traits and doomsday soothsayers who predict political-social control of the right to have children and of the determination of which traits are desirable are writing in lay magazines. Scientists are motivated to understand the processes involved and to develop useful therapies for human disorders. Nevertheless, social and political philosophy may become important forces in the application of such knowledge, just as Einstein’s “pure” formulation of the relationship between energy and mass led eventually to its application in atomic bombs. The potential bombshells of what is sometimes called “the biological revolution” include direct alteration of human physical or mental characteristics by “treatment” with genes and fertilization of human eggs in the test tube. We will discuss several current practices and certain futuristic possibilities, in the context of present knowledge and foreseeable developments in human genetics.
KeywordsObesity Depression Cortisol Schizophrenia Anemia
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