Debra Smith


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Are the developments featured in Paul Root Wolpe's talk ethical in your view? If there is a line to be drawn where would you draw it?

Paul Root Wolpe's talk was quite an eye opener. If it is the job of the collective community to set the limits and boundaries, we had better start talking.
They are at least talking in Europe but in North America we are for the most part not even aware of the issues. So, I ask you: what is ethical?

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      Mar 30 2011: Hi Frederic!
      There may be no problem at all with glow in the dark skin but we do not know what would happen in the long run or in a few generations, or if the species was allowed to go wild. Without understanding the ramificaitons of our actions letting something new into the biosphere can have unforseen consequences.
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    Mar 24 2011: I don't see why we shouldn't be able to have pink, glow-in-the dark dogs - unless, of course, the animal created was faulty and in pain as a result of the alterations. If said dog was healthy and happy... why not?

    That pretty much sums up my views on all genetic engineering, even the farming variety. Creating genetically engineered birds that suffocate under their own weight is unethical not because they are unnatural but because doing so forces the animal created to suffer a great deal. Creating pigs that excrete chemicals is fine; as long as they are treated like pigs and not like machines. (Which is done in industrial farming to NORMAL pigs - shouldn't we stop cruelty to existing animals before we start worrying about new ones?)
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      Mar 24 2011: I wish things were that simple, but they aren't.
      Let's say you create a frog that glows at night. What could that mean ? Maybe it's easier detected by it's predators, hence they are caught more easily and the population might be reduced dramatically or even become extinct. What if this frog was responsible for eating disease transmitting insects ? Now suddenly these insects are left to uncontrolled reproduction because the natural predator is gone.
      There can be an endless number of such cases.
      We don't understand nature sufficiently to determine with certainty what the overall impact of our experiments on the eco systems will be.
      This is probably one of my main concerns regarding genetic modification.
      Another concern is that, people with financial resources might become enabled to create their designer kids (more intelligent, more beautiful, stronger,.....). This could lead to an unfair competitive advantage over others that don't have the same resources. In the extreme, a small group of "super humans" might be created, dominating the rest of the world.
      I know that sounds a bit far fetched, but in a time when cosmetic surgery is pretty common, I can't see that other modifications wouldn't be done as soon as the possibilities become available.
      And this, I think, is truly an ethical problem.