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OfflineViveka
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Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth
    #2327999 - 02/12/04 08:20 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Through a prompt in another thread, I have decided to take up, again, the cloning issue. This time, instead of debating the philisophical and ethical implications as in infidelGOD's thread, we will instead discuss the pragmatics of genetic engineering and its real life implications to our ecosystem and life on Earth. We can still discuss human values of course, but I wanted to voice my opinion with this other consideration included and I would like to see others do so as well. If that seems vague, ignore it and let us begin....


I think cloning is a foolhardy endeavour with too much danger involved. I also think that if genetic engineering reached it's ideal state (ie: a "perfect" process free of technical defects) that it would not benefit humanity or life on Earth.

The majority of criticism towards genetic engineering seems to come from those who argue that stem-cell research is unethical because it involves the destruction of human embryos, our best source for stem cells. This is an ethical criticism similar to the abortion debate. I am not critical of cloning for this reason, just as I am tolerant of abortion. I think both practices are an indication of profound spiritual sickness, however I don't fault genetic engineering because it uses stem cells. The value of one potential, undeveloped human life is of little consideration compared to my reasons for being against cloning.

Is genetic engineering responsible science? How can it be when we are unsure of the all the potential effects? I argue that cloning will never be "perfected" simply because we cannot effectively monitor all the results of such experimentation. For example, lets say the FDA approves cloned animals for food consumption. One of these animals escapes into "the wild" and reproduces sexually. We will not be able to control such a scenario and for all we know, the offspring of the cloned animal will manifest a detrimental mutation in their genetics, the possible effects of which are completely unpredictable.
Note that we are already doing this in plants. We have developed crops that are much higher in nutrients to help feed the third world. Sounds wonderful right? But what if a GM seed enters the wild?



Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Person X said:
I see no difference between cloning a human being and cloning a plant

Person Y responded:
that's pretty much what I'm saying.

THIS is what's so frightening to some people.

they want to believe that humans are "special".


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Correct there is no difference, but that doesn't mean that one is any more responsible than the other. What we are talking about here is potential ramifications to the ecosystem. Are we to accept all science, without regard to its potential consequences?

Let me also restate that cloning is not simply "taking DNA and creating a human being" as has been stated in this forum in the recent past. It is the replication of an organism. This involves no recombination of genetic material. Recombination of genes is how sexual reproduction works. Cloning is basically making a copy of an organism that would otherwise produce sexually. This would never happen naturally. We don't know all the possible short or long-term effects of creating a sexual being without the recombination of genetic material.

Quote:

Person X said:
I can't think of a more absurd idea than resurrecting a dead child
Person Y replied:
really? well that's your opinion. but what if people want to do this? should they not be able to because some people are creeped out by it?





No, they should not. Too bad if they're so out of touch with life that they can't accept their childs death. No single organism's life is worth the potential health of an entire ecosystem. What if that cloned child grows up, has kids, those kids have kids, etc.... and those kids manifest an abhorent mutation as a result of having a great,great,great.............great grndpa who was a clone. Can science ever guarantee this wouldn't happen?

If the goal of science and medicine is to increase the quality of life, does genetic engineering belong in science? Is it not an obligation of responsible science and medicine to protect the genetic legacy of billions of years on Earth?


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OfflineDestruKtiKon
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2328071 - 02/12/04 08:46 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

It dosen't matter what we think, if it happens it happens. How do we know that the next level of evoloution has to come out of "nature". Everything is natural, we are part of nature, what we create is nature. Life is a very tough cookie, it will find a way.


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OfflineViaggio
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2328084 - 02/12/04 08:51 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

I'm not sure what ecological ramifications you're implying. All I see is "what if the clone escapes into the wild and reproduces" and "what if junior developes a genetic mutation because his great^7 grandfather was a clone."

All I see is an assumption that genetic defects are possible. Is that your argument? Am I missing something?


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: DestruKtiKon]
    #2328420 - 02/12/04 10:38 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

It dosen't matter what we think, if it happens it happens. How do we know that the next level of evoloution has to come out of "nature".




That's not the point. The point is that it is irresponsible science to endeavor to do something which has serious risks that cannot be controlled. Yes, we are a part of nature. But unlike any other creature in nature, the capacity of our minds brings with it certain responsibilites. Nature has allowed us to progress to the point where we are able to manipulate genetic material. Nature has also made us capable of awareness and reason so to excercise our capacity for science without excercising our capacity for responsibility makes no sense.


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OfflineEarth_Droid
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2328462 - 02/12/04 10:48 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Areas in science which are not very well explored are never very popular at first. And are usually frowned upon. Remember when the world was flat? You would be a fool to question that at the time.


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viaggio]
    #2328471 - 02/12/04 10:50 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Essentially, yes that is my point. But the thrust of my argument is that science should not pursue cloning and genetic engineering because we would be unable to control the effects it might have on the genetic material of the organisms on this planet. Science carries a burden of responsibilty. It makes no sense to develop a science which could potentially fuck up the ecosystem. Is that not a valid point? I guess that's why I started this topic, because I never hear this argument and I think it's hugely significant.


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Earth_Droid]
    #2328481 - 02/12/04 10:52 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

However, an individual's belief that the earth is flat does not potentially threaten the health of life on said planet.

*edit* I think that should say "...an individual's belief that the earth is round...."

Plus, the round earth thinkers were merely trying validate a suspected truth. The gene scientist is attempting to create his own.


Edited by EvilEye? (02/13/04 04:09 AM)


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Invisiblepsyka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2328550 - 02/12/04 11:08 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

How do you know?


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OfflineSpecialEd
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2328757 - 02/13/04 12:44 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

I read a letter that a man with some disease (MS? I think) wrote to the people that had outlawed stem cells. He wanted to know why they didn't want him to get better.

It's like Infidel said, the sciences should answer to the needy, not to someone's lofty notions.


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OfflineToxicManM
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2329059 - 02/13/04 01:54 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

I think cloning is a foolhardy endeavour with too much danger involved.



What, exactly, are the dangers involved?

Are you aware that cloning is a standard technique for cultivation of mushrooms? It has been in use for many years.

If I discover a mushroom growing in the wild which is exceptionally frost resistant, I can bring a specimen home and clone it to have a frost resistant strain of that mushroom under cultivation.

What terrible risks are involved here? The mushroom I'm cultivating is already growing in the wild.


Are you perhaps conflating cloning and genetic engineering? Genetic engineering, particularly involving the introduction of genes that could not ordinarily occur in nature into organisms, certainly carries some significant risks.


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Offlinedjd586
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: ToxicMan]
    #2329208 - 02/13/04 02:33 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Cloning is interesting, but it is dangerous, evolutionary and biologically speaking. Athough you could genetically clone a person who fit our ideals as a perfect human, doing so would make the human gene pool shallow. Over time people would be come more susecptable to disease. Many biologists actually compare human cloning to inbreeding. For a good example, look at the royal familes of Europe.


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: ToxicMan]
    #2329430 - 02/13/04 04:04 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

Are you aware that cloning is a standard technique for cultivation of mushrooms? It has been in use for many years.

If I discover a mushroom growing in the wild which is exceptionally frost resistant, I can bring a specimen home and clone it to have a frost resistant strain of that mushroom under cultivation.





When you clone a mushroom culture you are basically just growing out from an isolated piece of tissue that already has all the reproductive machinery in place, correct?

When a mammal is cloned, genetic material is removed from a single blacocyst and replaced by the donor's genes with a syringe. There is nothing sexual about it. Mushrooms are a much simpler organism and can reproduce sexually or asexually anyway. Mushroom "cloning" for cultivation purposes is different from removing and replacing DNA with a syringe.
I am conflating terms a bit. 'Genetic engineering' is probably a bit more one the mark. Basically anything that involves swapping and replicating DNA with a microscope and a syringe, interfering with gene recombination in sexual organisms, that sort of thing.


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: SpecialEd]
    #2329482 - 02/13/04 04:57 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

I read a letter that a man with some disease (MS? I think) wrote to the people that had outlawed stem cells. He wanted to know why they didn't want him to get better.
 



Hahaha, nice try man. :smirk:An appeal for the victim is not gonna cut it in this case.  Individual freedom and privelege is only extended to an individual up to the point where it does not infringe upon the freedoms and priveleges of others.  It's not that the "people who outlawed stem cells" "didn't want him to get better".  It's simply that they denied him a privelege in the interest of a greater majority.
 
Quote:

  It's like Infidel said, the sciences should answer to the needy, not to someone's lofty notions.




Lofty notions or responsible consideration of risks?  Who fits in the category of "needy".  What is a need?  Does suffering indicate need?  Should priveleges be granted to a person on the basis of a perceived "need" alone? If that were so, I could claim I needed anything I wanted, as long as I could make a case that I was somehow being denied something I "deserved" to enjoy.  Does a man need to live?


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OfflineViaggio
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2329652 - 02/13/04 08:35 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

I tried to post this before bedtime last night but the site went down...

Quote:

...we would be unable to control the effects it might have on the genetic material of the organisms on this planet...



Bear with me on this (because I'm high), but how would naturally 'engineered' DNA be less of a threat, more controlled than artificially engineered DNA? This (medical) research could correct DNA defects that are responsible for (just about) every disease and ailment out there. This is a ridiculous example but if a neo-cow did venture into the wild and reproduce, it would only be inserting less unhealthy DNA into the wild cow-gene pool. This would make engineering as a potential ecological benefial.

Quote:

Over time people would be come more susecptable to disease


How so?


Edited by viaggio (02/13/04 02:57 PM)


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OfflineEarth_Droid
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2329919 - 02/13/04 11:16 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Taking LSD is dangerous. It is dangerous to the individuals current beleive systems as they will be shattered. That is not to say that it is not worth the gain that can be received.


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OfflineRenegade8
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2330105 - 02/13/04 11:58 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Anyone here see the movie Gattaca?

There's my best argument against genetic engineering. It's all well & good to say we could improve the human species by tinkering with genes, but The Man will end up using it to eliminate our "defects" and our individuality along with it.

Also, many of the things seen as defective come with unseen advantages that would be lost to humanity forever. Sorry to bring up the ADHD thing again, but it's a good example here. I could see people deciding to eradicate that "horrible disorder" from our society so everyone's little kids can sit quietly in school...and then we lose out on the ideas of people like Edison, Einstein, Ben Franklin, etc. Without crazy fucked-up people who think differently, innovation would screech to a halt.


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Earth_Droid]
    #2330510 - 02/13/04 01:27 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

Taking LSD is dangerous. It is dangerous to the individuals current beleive systems as they will be shattered. That is not to say that it is not worth the gain that can be received.




Taking LSD is a choice which poses risk to one individual. Genetic engineering is a choice which poses risk to an entire ecosystem.


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OfflineViveka
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viaggio]
    #2330575 - 02/13/04 01:38 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

This is a rediculous example butif a neo-cow did venture into the wild and reproduce, it would only be inserting less unhealthy DNA into the wild cow-gene pool. This would make engineering as a potential ecological benefial.





"less unhealthy" by what standard? Here's how I see it. An embryo created in a lab has had genetic material sucked out of it and squirted back into with a syringe, then bathed in certain enzymes and hormones to make it "viable". A "natural embryo" is created through a process that has been in place in sexual organisms for billions of years. When we engineer an embryo in the lab, we may be removing genetic traits that cause disease, however, how do we know we are also not corrupting the blastocyst at some level by manipulating it that way? Perhaps the neo-cow would be a healthier cow with better genes. But what if its genes became corrupted and it spread them into the gene pool? The possibility of this risk is why it shouldn't be done.


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OfflineViaggio
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2331037 - 02/13/04 03:13 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

I'd consider 'refined' DNA (meaning engineered to eliminate most genetic related health risks) more healthy than natural 'raw' (unaltered) DNA.

...how do we know we are also not corrupting the blastocyst at some level by manipulating it that way?
I don't know if I understand your question here. A blastocyst occurs during the early stage of embryo development. Genetic engineering happens before this stage.

But what if its genes became corrupted and it spread them into the gene pool?
How would genes become corrupted? Same way they're corrupted in nature?

If we have more control over DNA structure, expressed genetic traits, then I see less ecological risk. I strongly agree, however, that this is serious science to be held to the strictest standards of law and precision.


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InvisibleinfidelGOD
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Re: Genetic Engineering: Ramifications to life on Earth [Re: Viveka]
    #2331292 - 02/13/04 04:15 PM (13 years, 9 months ago)

Is genetic engineering responsible science? How can it be when we are unsure of the all the potential effects?

unsure of it's potential effects?...
well how do we learn of it's potential effects? by sitting around and thinking about it? and what do you mean by "responsible science"? isn't that just your personal value judgement? I think it's irresponsible for science NOT to pursue this, considering the potential benefits to people in need. and about that moral issue, yeah it REALLY creeps some people out to think that we could have clones running around. well that could happen, but it's not likely. and if it does, so what? do you think that's "unnatural"? what exactly does it mean to be "natural"?


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