The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Double Edged Sword Example. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
The evolution of the world and its civilizations is galvanized by continual scientific and technological progress, which is brought about by the vast reservoir of knowledge that humankind has gained over the centuries in countless attempts to quench their insatiable thirst for the ultimate key that will unlock all the secrets of life. In the last few decades, men and women of science who are determined to fully unveil the mysteries of the universe were already able to take evolution to a whole new level—one that is closer to its culmination.
They were able to discover the amazing ability of defying nature and manipulating those which holds the code to the individual characteristics of every living organism: genes. Genetic engineering, or gene manipulation, was once but a very popular element of science fictions and films; now, it has been lifted off the pages and television screens, and has become a reality that can actually help humanity overcome many of its imperfections. However, as this truth shows only a small part of the big picture, the capability of modifying the biological makeup of organisms has generated conflicting views from society.
It is best to acknowledge the fact that while recent breakthroughs have presented us with unforeseen promises, they have, at the same time, given us complex predicaments. The educational film DNA: The Promise and the Price introduces the viewers to four immensely powerful molecular biology techniques that may just as well decide the world’s future. With genetic engineering still in its premature stage, only time can tell whether its potential to improve medical technologies—and, subsequently, human lives—outweighs all the socio-ethical, political, and health repercussions that come with it.
Technology Is A Double Edged Sword Essay
Cloning, perhaps the most famous genetic engineering technology of this time, is the process of producing an organism that is genetically identical to its progenitor by vegetative reproduction or a laboratory technique. It holds several medical benefits that once existed only in dreams, books, and movies. For instance, human therapeutic cloning can provide genetically identical cells from embryonic tissues for regenerative medicine, as well as new, healthy tissues and organs that can be used for transplantation.
As such, cloning technologies can actually contribute greatly in the research and development for genetic diseases, as well as serious diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. The capability of generating artificial human cells can also lead to further improvements in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries and burn treatments. Human reproductive cloning, meanwhile, could allow infertile couples to have children with at least some of their DNA. People could even clone themselves to be able to create the “perfect descendant” for them, or even the loved ones that they have lost to ease the pain of bereavement.
However, the main argument against cloning is the fact that it is unethical and morally repugnant to use a human clone to save a life. A clone, though artificially made, is still a life form just like any other human being. To produce and later kill it merely for the sake of our needs would therefore be tantamount to committing a sin. Also, early experiments are most likely to result in a number of clinical failures and lead to miscarriage, the necessity of dozens or even hundreds of abortions, or births of massively deformed offspring.
But problems with regards to early experiments pale in comparison to the socio-ethical issues that would surely arise should cloning succeed in producing a healthy child, and become part of the repertoire of new reproductive technologies presently offered to those with sufficient funds. Worse, society would be at a lost as to how to treat human clones. Another product of years of extensive research in genetic engineering is gene therapy, which involves the treatment of a genetic disease through the insertion of normal or genetically altered genes into cells and tissues in order to repair damaged or replace missing genes.
It is seen as a potential cure for genetic disorders such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, severe combined immunodeficiency, etc. Genes and artificial chromosomes can also be inserted into embryos in a process known as germ-line gene therapy. This could be used to cure genetic disorders, including behavioral disorders such as schizophrenia, or to insert genes which enhance intelligence or athletic performance. The benefits of these genetic changes would be passed on to later generations.
Nevertheless, gene therapy is far from perfect; in fact, it has caused the death of many patients who wished to cure themselves of their genetic disorders. Viruses, while the carrier of choice in most gene therapy studies, unfortunately presents a variety of potential problems to the patient, such as toxicity and immune and inflammatory responses. This medical procedure also has several limitations, such as its short-lived nature, as well as the fact this treatment is most suitable only for diseases that resulted from mutations in a single gene.
It would be extremely difficult for gene therapy to effectively treat some of the most commonly occurring multi-factorial disorders such as heart diseases and diabetes, which are caused by the combined effects of variations in may genes. The next technique discussed in the film, RNA interference, can be used as a means of silencing gene expression. This can be harnessed to allow specific inhibitions of the function of any chosen target genes, including those involved in causing diseases such as cervical cancer and hepatitis.
However, like gene therapy, success is only more likely in those diseases with a simple genetic basis rather than in complex multi-gene disorders. Diseases involving sites where delivery of synthetic RNA is more straightforward will also be more likely to be effectively treated. Also, geneticists are still in the process of improving the RNA interference technique so that they can ensure the procedure’s ability to selectively target cancer cells without destroying any normal cells.
The last, and perhaps the most amazing, genetic technology shown in the film is stem cell therapy. Since stem cells are capable of being differentiated into basically all types of cells, they offer so much promise in the development of medical treatments for a wide range of conditions, including heart and brain diseases. Much success and potential has been demonstrated from research using adult stem cells. For instance, many patients with heart diseases who have resorted to stem cell therapy have made great progress in that more of their heart tissues are contracting normally.
However—and this is where the controversy lies—the differentiation potential of embryonic stem cells is broader than most adult stem cells. It divides more rapidly than adult stem cells, potentially making it easier to generate a larger number of cells for therapeutic means. As such, it is the most versatile stem cells which can be eventually used to create a new organ. As such, scientists are looking into the use of embryonic stem cells, which could possibly lead to the creation of artificial, healthy organs in a few decade’s time.
But, there is a price to be paid: sacrificial lives, in the form of embryos. Harvesting of embryonic stem cells can result in the destruction of human embryos, and even if clone embryos are used, they still count as human lives. As such, it would be very difficult for society to be able to swallow and accept such an immoral way of saving lives, especially those who believe that the end does not justify the means. As can be see, the promise of genetically modifying humans to improve their well being and to treat debilitating illnesses are becoming a reality.
By delving deeper into the world of genetics, newfound knowledge may also enable us to go so far as to engineer our own genetic blueprints—to enhance our physical attributes and mental capabilities; to choose the sex, hair and eye color, and even the personality of our children; and, maybe—just maybe—to create seemingly perfect human beings with superpowers. However, despite the enormous amount of development in the field, our moral understanding and awareness is still limited in scope. Our ethical values are still not capable of providing us with adequate tools needed to address the socio-ethical problems posed by advances in genetics.
As science outpaces moral understanding, scientists and ethicists are pitted against one another in their struggle to stand by what they believe is for the greater good and to articulate their concerns. While as proponents argue that genetic engineering can prevent and cure more diseases, ethicists believe that the risks—particularly the sacrifice of human lives to save those of others, as well as the after effects of manipulating that which has been ordained by nature—far outweigh the benefits.
Humans have the natural tendency to abuse, and as such, the consequential misuse of genetic technologies is but inevitable. For instance, designer babies may be the realization of parents’ dreams for their children to be the best of the best, but altering a baby’s genetic traits and manipulating our own nature may demean the uniqueness of each individual and can therefore undermine our humanity. Children may, in effect, become mere consumer goods for ambitious parents.
Gene manipulation, which is seen as a manifestation of the human desire to play God, is capable of entailing horrible social consequences. Society might just be divided between genetically modified humans whose abilities are enhanced and normal humans who don’t possess the same superhuman qualities. Worse, those who are lacking the genetic advantage might just end up becoming the inferior beings, living in a dreadful society with a lot of unimaginable problems.
A future driven by genetic revolution seemed bright and wonderful; however, if society fails to expand its moral awareness to cope with the ethical questions that comes with this scientific development, the forces of nature might just catch us off-guard and backlash with a vengeance that we couldn’t possibly escape from. From this, it is apparent that gene manipulation can be likened to a double-edged sword—a weapon lethal against enemies, but with a great risk: it can just as easily kill the one who wields it.