Fifty years ago, the possibilities and potential benefits genetic engineering would have seemed straight out of science fiction. In the past 15 years, however, science has advanced significantly in the study and application of genetic engineering techniques for modifying many basic aspects of our lives, from the supply of food that we eat to our very lives. As Hayes writes in his argument on the benefits of genetic engineering, “A hallmark of the human species is the-ability to intentionally manipulate objects of nature”. However, never has our ability to do so been so developed, nor have the implications been quite so significant and profound, involving not only biological and environmental concerns, but moral, legal, and ethical concerns over genetic manipultion and even less invasive medical processes that raise such questions about what lines to draw based on ethics, medical or otherwise, as well.
The possibilities and potential benefits of genetic engineering have the very real potential of “destabiliz[ing] both the biological and the social foundations of the human world” (Hayes 17). In order to comprehend the scope of the implications of, as well as the potential benefits of genetic engineering, it is important to understand what genetic engineering is, what scientific evidence supports and refutes its use and for what purposes, and how various stakeholders debate it as a construct. Ultimately, it will be proven that genetic engineering is not an area of scientific practice that should be advanced without further study. Until approximately 30 years ago, scientists specializing in genetics directed their attention towards cracking the code of human, animal, and plant life by analyzing the components of DNA and identifying the characteristics that correspond to each gene (Shand, Thomas, & Wetter 42).
As this process developed, the focus of genetic engineering began to shift, transitioning from “reading to writing genetic code” (Shand, Thomas, & Wetter 42;...