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Free Research Paper on Genetics

With the ever increasing amount of research and money being put into the area of genetic technology, it is very real that in the near future people will be able to alter their genetic makeup and the genetic makeup of their offspring. The technology of gene modification does have the potential to benefit many individuals. However, with the good comes the bad, and when we are dealing with genetics the possible negative outcomes must be taken very seriously. One of the negative outcomes is that genetic modification will serve to further support and enforce our already segregated society.

The foundation for increased segregation is based on an increase in the division and discrimination between the so-called “genetically weak” or “genetically disabled”, the “genetically normal” and the “genetically enhanced”.

The day is not far off when gene therapy will become available to the general public. With this availability, many people will expect that individuals in the “genetically disabled” community will want to receive gene modification in order to improve quality of life for themselves and for their potential offspring.

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For example, in the article Is Gene Therapy a Form of Eugenics? John Harris discusses how “gene therapy offers the prospect of enabling the genetically weak to reproduce and give birth to the genetically strong”(Harris, 167). But, many people who are considered disabled or weak do not see themselves in this way. For example, many people in the deaf community consider their deafness an advantage. Differing views on what does and does not constitute a genetic advantage/disadvantage is inevitable, and as a result there will be disagreement and division between individuals who do not share the same opinions.

Another way in which gene modification will enforce a segregated society, is that in order for society to maintain certain values the genetically enhanced may be forced to form their own communities. For example, the value of achievement based on natural abilities and talents would slowly dissipate if the genetically enhanced were living side by side with those considered genetically normal. To illustrate this point, the world of sports provides a good analogy for society as a whole. In order for sports fans to continue to value natural athletic abilities, not only would events such as the Olympics have to hold games for the “genetically normal” but also for athletes who have been genetically enhanced. For many of these athletes, unlike the choice carried with taking steroids, the genetic choices made by their parents are out of the athletes control.

Segregation will also be perpetuated through the increase in discrimination that will accompany genetic enhancement. For example, people with “weak genes” who can’t afford to get them enhanced, will be discriminated against and will lose job opportunities to individuals who are naturally or artificially genetically strong. In addition, it is likely that people with enhanced genes will be favored in the workplace, and as a result will receive better job opportunities. We may also see discrimination from insurance companies who could require genetic screening as a prerequisite for coverage. In such a case, people with weak genes may have to pay higher rates, or risk not being covered at all.

The enforcement of segregation is only one of the negative outcomes that genetic modification could have on society. Some other negative implications of genetic modification include, but are by no means limited to, loss of identity, heightened and unrealistic expectations from parents on their genetically enhanced offspring, and the possibility of eugenics. Therefore, as the scientific community charges forward with genetic technology they must remember the big picture, and the societal repercussions that will inevitably accompany genetic modification.

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