Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the sections on Animal Rights, Knowledge, Life, Medical Ethics, Nature, Progress, and Science




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BIOTECHNOLOGY


Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the sections on Animal Rights, Knowledge, Life, Medical Ethics, Nature, Progress, and Science.


Scope of biotechnology

Biotechnology is using living organisms and their parts

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Applications of biotechnology to crops: benefits and risks (CAST Issue paper #12), 1999, Online: www.castscience.org/pdf/biotc_ip.pdf

Biotechnology: “the science and technology aimed at understanding and using living organisms or parts thereof to improve the organism for specific human uses or to make or modify a product.”


Biotechnology does not serve any specific ends or purposes

The President’s Council on Bioethics, Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness, 2003, p. 3

“As with all techniques and the powers they place in human hands, the techniques and powers of biotechnology enjoy considerable independence from ties to narrow or specific goals. Biotechnology, like any other technology, is not for anything in particular. Like any other technology, the goals it serves are supplied neither by the techniques themselves nor by the powers they make available, but by their human users. Like any other means, a given biotechnology once developed to serve one purpose is frequently available to serve multiple purposes, including some that were not imagined or even imaginable by those who brought the means into being.”


Biotechnology is not yet a mature science

Freeman Dyson (professor of physics, Institute for Advanced Study), “The Question of Global Warming,” The New York Review of Books, June 12, 2008. Online: www.nybooks.com/articles/21494, accessed June 3, 2008

“The science and technology of genetic engineering are not yet ripe for large-scale use. We do not understand the language of the genome well enough to read and write it fluently. But the science is advancing rapidly, and the technology of reading and writing genomes is advancing even more rapidly.”


Genetic issues are no longer newsworthy

Bill Armer (Lecturer in Social Policy, Univ. of Leeds, UK), Eugenetics: a polemical view of social policy in the genetic age, New Formations, Spring 2007, p. 96

“Indeed, and all the more so in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans, media attention has largely shifted from ‘yesterday’s news’ of the Human Genome Project and biotechnological innovation to discussion of climate change and impending ecological disasters. In the process, and largely by default, genetic technology and its use now seems to have been relegated to the mundane world of the everyday application of science. Genetics is no longer sexy, and public debate about both its practical use and associated ethical issues is largely muted.”


Genetic engineering defined

Manipulation of DNA

Eve and Albert Stwertka (physicians and college instructors), Genetic Engineering, Revised edition, 1989, p. 11

“Genetic engineering involves the manipulation of the molecules that make up the innermost structure of living matter. These molecules control the hereditary information carried by cells.”


Manipulation of DNA in vitro

Chambers’ Science and Technology Dictionary, 1988, p. 385

Genetic engineering: “Colloquial for genetic manipulation.”

Genetic manipulation: “Term for the procedures with which it is now possible to combine DNA sequences from widely different organisms in vitro, often with great precision.”


Production of novel genetic combinations

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technological Terms, Fourth edition, 1990, p. 798

Genetic engineering: “The intentional production of new genes and alteration of genomes by the substitution or addition of new genetic material.”


Research and DNA recombination

Van Norstrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, Seventh edition, 1990, Volume 1, p. 1309

Genetic engineering: “This term, used mainly in lay scientific literature, encompasses the gene research and gene recombination techniques which have expanded at an enormous rate since the early 1970s, during which period a means for cutting the DNA molecule by using restriction enzymes was discovered.”


Recombination of DNA and injection into organisms

McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Sixth edition, 1987, volume 7, p. 638

Genetic engineering: “The artificial recombination of nucleic acid molecules in the test tub, then insertion into a virus, bacterial plasmid, or other vector system, and the subsequent incorporation of the chimeric molecules into a host organism in which they are capable of continued propagation. The construction of such molecules has also been termed gene manipulation because it usually involved the production of novel genetic combinations by biochemical means.”


Use of novel DNA to alter the traits of living things

The American Heritage Dictionary of Science, 1986, p. 249

Genetic engineering: “The scientific alteration of genes or genetic material, especially through gene-splicing, to produce desirable new traits in organisms or to eliminate undesirable ones.”


Manipulation of DNA to alter hereditary traits at any of several levels

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Second Edition, 1987, p. 796

Genetic engineering: “The development and application of scientific methods, procedures, and technologies that permit direct manipulation of genetic material in order to alter the hereditary traits of a cell, organism, or population.”


Includes any human-controlled manipulation of genes or the fetus

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 39

“Genetic engineering, as defined by the American Medical Association, ‘might be considered as covering anything having to do with the manipulation of gametes or the fetus, for whatever purpose, from conception other than by sexual union, to treatment of disease in utero, to the ultimate manufacture of a human being to exact specifications.’”


Includes any human-controlled intervention in heredity

The Third Barnhart Dictionary of New English, 1990, p. 203

Genetic engineering: “Any form of human intervention in hereditary processed to alter the character or nature of the organism.”


Limited to human-created bacteria as “chemical factories”

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Second Edition, 1987, p. 796

Genetic engineering: “A technique that produced unlimited amounts of otherwise unavailable or scarce biological product by introducing DNA isolated from animals or plants into bacteria and then harvesting the product from a bacterial colony, as human insulin produced in bacteria by the human insulin gene. Also called biogenetics.”


Limited to attempts to alter human traits by manipulating DNA

Carl Heintze (public information officer, The Institute for Medical Research), Genetic Engineering: Man and Nature in Transition, 1974, p. 189

“Genetic control and engineering: The alteration of genes, the use of chemistry, physics, and biology to control the future of Homo sapiens.”


Nature does it

Tom Beauchamp (prof. of philosophy, Kennedy School of Ethics, Georgetown Univ.), Health and Human Values, 1983, p. 177

“Through nature’s own ‘genetic engineering,’ which has been going on since long before humankind began doing it, unknown mutations with unforseen qualities might develop.”


Nature and man both do it

June Goodfield (fellow of the British Royal Society of Medicine), Playing God: Genetic Engineering and the Manipulation of Life, 1977, p. 69

“We must first notice three important distinctions between genetic engineering as traditionally practiced in nature, and as presently practiced by man. When widely divergent genetic materials were combined and recombined by nature, the resulting hybrid had to be of a novel, superior type to survive.”


Only man does it

Eve and Albert Stwertka (physicians and college instructors), Genetic Engineering, Revised edition, 1989, p. 11

“Genetic engineering is a totally new process and is based on the science of molecular biology, which came into being barely forty years ago.”


Genetic flaws cause human misery

Genetic errors become metabolic disorders

John Langone (lecturer, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School), Human Engineering: Marvel or Menace? 1978, p. 43

“A single error in the genetic code — a ‘word’ misspelled or a ‘paragraph’ misplaced — can induce a complicated disease involving many organs. Important chemicals may not be made if the production line breaks down or malfunctions, or they could accumulate in dangerous amounts, clogging the body’s brain and arteries. A coding mistake in DNA could also lead to the wrong kind of protein.”


There are thousands of genetic diseases

Eve and Albert Stwertka (physicians and college instructors), Genetic Engineering, revised edition, 1989, p. 97

“About two thousand genetic diseases are caused by an abnormality in a single gene. It might be located in any one of the 44 non-sex chromosomes (autosomal diseases) or in the X-chromosomes (X-linked). Over two thousand more hereditary diseases are caused by defects in several genes.”


Genetic flaws are associated with major and minor ailments

Carl Heintze (public information officer, The Institute for Medical Research), Genetic Engineering: Man and Nature in Transition, 1974, p. 102

“The most obvious defects that occur because of defective genes are mental retardation, missing hands, arms, legs, or feet, improperly formed spines, or cleft palates. Although these things are obvious, they are not the most common genetic defects. Millions of human beings are born with myopic vision, slightly clubbed feet, major or minor birthmarks, or allergies to many different substances. Such variations are taken for granted today as the random combination of genes obtained by a new individual from his mother and father.”


Recessive lethal genes exist in everyone

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 53

“We all carry from three to eight lethal genes recessively — that is, they are ‘sleepers’ lurking in the depths until we happen by chance to marry somebody who carries the same bad gene. Then they unite and do their dreadful work.”


Genetic disabilities kill unborn babies

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 51

“About 20 to 30 percent of conceptuses, embryos and fetuses ‘die’ by spontaneous (natural) abortion — a very high rate of loss. Almost all such aborts are defective, genetically or congenitally.”


Genetic diseases cause thousands of birth defects

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 53

“About 250,000 children a born each year with birth defects in this country, and twenty percent of them are due to known genetic causes. All of us have some genetic defect transmissible to our children.”


It affects 1% of children

Inder M. Verma (prof. of molecular biology, Salk Institute), “Gene Therapy,” Scientific American, November 1990, p. 68

“One infant in every hundred is born with a serious genetic defect.”


It affects 6% of children

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 182

“The biophysicist Leroy Augenstein estimated in 1972 that a total of six percent of live births, or one out of 17, are defective. Of these, he said, forty thousand to fifty thousand children every year ‘are so defective that they don’t that they are human beings.’”


Tay-Sachs disease has a genetic origin

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 55

“There are at least one hundred diseases due to a single bad gene, which therefore makes them good candidates for gene therapy. One such is Tay-Sachs disease, a fatal disorder of the nervous system mostly affecting Jewish children; another disease is sickle-cell anemia — a blood disorder which mainly shows up in black people.”


Huntington’s disease has a genetic origin

June Goodfield (fellow, British Royal Society of Medicine), Playing God: Genetic Engineering and the Manipulation of Life, 1977, p. 48

“But of all these genetic diseases, Joseph’s disease and a related one, Huntington’s chorea, probably represent the ultimate in tragedy, both because of our present inability to diagnose them early and because of the agony of the parents who must play genetic dice when having children. Here at this point, if any, one would hope that science might help.”


Lesch-Nyhan syndrome has a genetic origin

June Goodfield (fellow, British Royal Society of Medicine), Playing God: Genetic Engineering and the Manipulation of Life, 1977, p. 49

“Another single-gene disease is Lesch-Nyhan syndrome. Male children who have it start biting their fingernails, but instead of just biting their nails like ordinary children, they start to chew off their fingers. Then they attack their lips and their tongues. They become psychotic and usually die before the age of 14. It has been tracked down to the lack of one single enzyme, called hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase. Though there is no treatment for the disease at present, at least it can now be diagnosed in utero and an abortion offered.”


Genetic disease causes mental retardation

John Langone (lecturer, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School), Human Engineering: Marvel or Menace? 1978, p. 45

“In any event, there are at least 23 inherited metabolic diseases that can lead to mental retardation.”


Genetic disease causes sterility

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 53

“About ten percent of sterile couples are sterile because of genetic defects, about five percent of our children are lost because of genetic diseases before they reach maturity. These are family metabolic disorders like sickle-cell anemia.”


Genetic disease victims flood our hospitals

Joseph Fletcher (prof. of medical ethics, Univ. of Virginia School of Medicine), The Ethics of Genetic Control, 1974, p. 53

“It is estimated that about one-fourth of our hospital beds are filled with victims of genetic disease, if we take into account the genetic factors in diseases like schizophrenia.”


Genetic disease exerts an awful economic toll

Jeff Lyon and Peter Gorner (staff writers, Chicago Tribune; co-winners, 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for reporting on genetic engineering), Altered Fates: The Promise of Gene Therapy, 1986, p. 1

“Apart from the human suffering, such diseases exact a substantial economic toll. Some 1.2 million people are hospitalized in the United States annually for congentital illnesses, at a cost of $2.35 billion, and several million others are in institutions, each at a cost of up to $30,000 a year.”


Genetic flaws are related to cancer and heart disease

Eve and Albert Stwertka (physicians and college instructors), Genetic Engineering, revised edition, 1989, p. 69

“Not only are genetic factors important in such diseases as cancer, mental illness, and heart disease, but more than three thousand other diseases, most of them rare, are known to be caused by a malfunctioning or faulty gene. The genetic knowledge gained will be used to seek new ways of coping with or curing these diseases.”


Genetic flaws are related to aging

John Langone (lecturer, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School), Human Engineering: Marvel or Menace? 1978, p. 43

“Scientists have suggested that errors in the genetic code may in some cases have to do with the aging process. Genetic material might become faulty with age and lose its memory, as it were. The result is a flawed protein and bodily s1owdown.”


There is no medical treatment for genetic disease

Inder M. Verma (prof. of molecular biology, Salk Institute), “Gene Therapy,” Scientific American, November 1990, p. 68

“Of the more than four thousand known inherited disorders, most lack fully effective therapies.”

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