Cloning and DNA

Serving life or a disaster?
A. Indeed, researchers who have been toiling in their laboratories in order to solve impenetrable mysteries related to life, its structure and evolution, molecular biology and genetics have been making truly assiduous and admirable efforts. Facts known so far are really impressive even though they represent only ten per cent of what is to be learnt. Nevertheless, mankind, endowed with the spark of knowledge, turning into account its achievements to date, looks forward to the future aiming at means of prognosis, diagnosis and cure of various diseases becoming more effective. Since DNA’s decoding has been received with great élan, one wonders whether this success will be utilised to the benefit of humanity, in which case we can be optimistic, or if it is to be treated recklessly, so harming people by causing a flood of unprecedented problems. In any case, Plato’s aphorism that “every piece of knowledge divorced from virtue proves to be cunning rather than wisdom” calls for precautionary measures to be taken so that any tragic outcome is staved off.B. More specifically, “translating” human genes may bring about psychological and social troubles while simultaneously being salutary for the human race. To illustrate this, it is now possible to diagnose a (predisposition for a) disease, like anaemia, cancer, diabetes, etc, 10-40 years before any symptoms actually appear. In many a case, such an early diagnosis could be beneficial, as it might lead individuals to disease-fighting behavioural patterns by complying with special dieting or other instructions, or regularly undergoing check-ups. What will happen, though, when an ailment for which no therapy or prevention is available is early diagnosed? A similar prospect of health failure can be particularly oppressive.C. However, this is not the only dilemma emerging. Insurance companies and employers already conduct some prognostic tests. Insurers are interested to know in advance the life expectancy of their clients so as to decide on their premiums. Otherwise, they have to demand the same amount from everyone, which makes insurance rates unfair or barely affordable for many. Likewise, certain employers require that candidates for appointment be subjected to a genetic test with a view to locating any predisposition for a job-related disease (e.g. over-sensitivity to toxic substances) or for some irrelevant problem (e.g. premature death due to a cardio-vascular disease). Perhaps in the former case both employers and employees could benefit from knowing about a job-related illness but in the latter case, employees should be legally protected against such examination.D. Moreover, cloning human embryos will entail controversial potential. Embryo owners will be able to stipulate the number, gender, quality and the whole prefabricated structure of human clones, providing them with features the former have selected by intervening in their genetic codes. “Prudent” parents could keep frozen replicas of their offspring so that, if the latter die, they could make up for the loss. Greedy couples will discover the possibility of profit and, if their old enough child has Jordan’s records, Crawford’s beauty or Hawking’s intelligence, they will offer to sell their child’s cloned embryos at exuberant prices. Unscrupulous businessmen could start trafficking cloned embryos and young children would see their faces reflected on the faces of younger or older people or their peers, without knowing what those hosts are because, although they will be siblings, biologically speaking, in actuality they could be deemed to be their cousins, nephews, grandchildren or total strangers. This could pave the way for mass reproduction of standardised humans. The kind of such a standardisation will depend on the intentions of an “élite”.E. This is why Bio-ethics is of utmost importance. If it is agreed that man has the right to be honoured and respected as a unique and invaluable being on earth, then medical research cannot be uncontrolled. It is imperative that rules of ethics and medical etiquette should be enacted, especially as regards experiments on humans and discoveries of Genetics. Fortunately, the European Union is already processing such a set of rules. Before benevolent biologists and geneticists begin to feel remorse because their conscientious endeavours will have been put to death’s or alienation’s service, is it not more preferable for action to be taken beforehand?