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Genetic Engineering Introduction Genetic engineering is 'the

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Genetic Engineering Introduction Genetic engineering is 'the Powered By Docstoc
					Genetic Engineering
                               'the deliberate modification of the
1. Introduction Genetic engineering is

    characters of an organism by the manipulation of the
    genetic material'. In connection with medical issues genetic engineering is using
    techniques of gene development and manipulation to find cures or prevention for disease and

    disabilities in humans. Genetic diseases affect large numbers of people. Defective inherited

    genes can cause a wide variety of mental and physical problems. Scientists are involved in

    genetic research into: cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, sickle-cell anaemia, Tay-Sachs

    disease and Huntington's chorea. They are helped by the Human Genome Project which is

                                                                 mapping all the genes in the

                                                                 human body.




                                                                 Read Sarabjit’s story from the

                                                                 Guardian



                                                                 Most genetic research has been
                                                                 based on: germline gene therapy,

                                                                 which enables genetic changes to

be made to those cells that transmit information from one generation to the next, enabling
permanent changes to be made. pre-implanation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which allows a healthy

embryo to be selected from a number that have been produced so that women at risk of producing

babies with diseases such as cystic fibrosis produce healthy babies.




More recently, cloning processes have been used to grow healthy cells to replace the
malfunctioning ones and so   cure disease. This process involves creating stem cells either
from embryos produced for IVF but not used, or from adult bone marrow or blood. These stem

cells are then cultivated so that they can multiply and be transplanted into diseased cells to

produce a cure.

Legislation permitting stem cell research in the United Kingdom was passed by Parliament in

February 2001. However, it is still illegal in the USA where it was a major issue in the 2004

presidential election.

2. Non-religious arguments about genetic engineering    Arguments for • It offers the
prospect of cures for currently incurable diseases. • It is being done in other countries and so is

available to those rich enough to travel and pay for treatments. • Research into stem cell cloning

would only use embryos until it was easier to use adult cells. • Genetic research is an integral part
of medical research and is bound to include some genetic engineering. • Genetic research is

closely monitored by the law, but has vast potential benefits.

Arguments against • It has too little information about the long-term consequences. • It
has effects which would be irreversible, so if anything went wrong it would be permanent. • It

places too much power in the hands of scientists who could use genetic engineering to act like Dr

Frankenstein to produce scientifically created human beings. • It treats the human body as a

commodity no different from plants. • It offers the possibility of people having to be genetically

screened before getting life insurance, senior jobs, etc., with anyone likely to develop illness or die

young losing out.

    Christian attitudes to genetic engineering

There are several attitudes to genetic engineering amongst Christians.

Liberal Protestant view Some Christians, mainly liberal Protestants, believe that: genetic

engineering is a good thing which should be supported by the Church as long as it is done for the
cure of disease (therapeutic cloning) and not to produce 'perfect humans'. Such Christians support

the work of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which supervises genetic
engineering using human embryos. These Christians support genetic engineering because: Jesus

was a healer who showed that Christians should do all they can to cure disease. Discovering the

genetic make-up of humans and using those discoveries to improve human life is part of what God

wants humans to do as stewards of his creation. It is no different from research into drugs that
can be used to improve human life. There is a difference between creating cells and creating

people. Creating people by science rather than by sex would be wrong because it would be taking
over God's role in the creation of life, but creating cells is working with God. As far as using

embryos for genetic research is concerned, embryos cannot be regarded as potential human life

until they are fourteen days old (the time limit set by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology
Authority for genetic research). They accept most of the non-religious arguments in favour of

genetic engineering.

Roman Catholic view Some Christians, mainly Roman Catholics, believe that genetic engineering is

permissible as long as it is only for curing diseases and does not use human embryos. They agree

with genetic research for the same first three reasons as liberal Protestants, but disagree with the
use of embryos because: life begins at the moment of conception whether in a womb or a glass

dish. Killing an embryo is killing human life which is banned by the Bible and the Church. Embryos

for research have been produced by methods with which the Catholic Church disagrees (i.e. IVF).

Conservative Evangelical view Some Christians are opposed to any form of genetic research at all.
They have this attitude because: they believe that God has created the genetic make-up of each

human being at the moment of conception and people have no right to interfere with God's will.
They believe that genetic engineering is 'playing God', and that is a great sin. They believe that it
is wrong to try to make the Earth perfect, as only heaven is perfect. This life is a preparation for
heaven and should not be used to try to make heaven on Earth. They accept the non-religious

arguments against genetic engineering.

Key Quotes “Jesus of Nazareth was a healer. He cured diseases, and showed that God's purposes

include overcoming 'those things in His creation that spoil it and that diminish the life of his

children'. Clearly, where genetic manipulation is the means of healing diseases - in animals or

humans - it is to be welcomed.” Statement from the Methodist Church

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are

there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you'.” From Luke 10:8-9

 Islamic attitudes to genetic engineering
Some Muslims are opposed to genetic research in any form at all. They have this attitude
because: they believe that the genetic make-up of each individual person has been established by

God and only God can alter that make-up. They believe that embryo research is the same as

abortion and, as they believe life begins at fertilisation and do not agree with abortion, they will
not allow genetic research. They believe that scientists who are trying to create life from stem

cells, etc., are acting as God (shirk) and this is the most unforgivable sin for a Muslim. They

accept many of the non-religious arguments against genetic engineering.

Some Muslims believe that genetic engineering is a good thing as long as it is done for the cure of

disease (therapeutic cloning) and not to produce 'perfect humans'. Such Muslims support the work

of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which supervises genetic engineering using
human embryos. These Muslims support genetic engineering because: the Qur'an and hadith

teach that Muslims should do all they can to cure disease. Discovering the genetic make-up of

humans and using those discoveries to improve human life is part of what God wants humans to

do as vice-gerents of his creation. It is no different from research into drugs that can be used to
improve human life. There is a difference between creating cells and creating people. Creating

people by science rather than by sex would be wrong because it would be taking over God's role in
the creation of life, but creating cells is working with God. As far as using embryos for genetic

research is concerned, embryos cannot be regarded as potential human life until they are fourteen

days old (the time limit set by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for genetic

research) which fits in with the teachings of the Shari'ah on abortion.

Key Quotes “The Messenger of Allah said, 'Whenever any of you turns his eyes to one who has

been given more of wealth and progress than he, let him look towards one who is inferior to

himself.” (In other words have compassion on those who are suffering.) Hadith

				
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