Week 6: Biotechnology - by Adam Parker

To be honest, I’m not very well educated on the topic of biotechnology. I know my friend’s dad works at Genentech and that is definitely one of the most important companies to be aware of right now. We definitely have the potential to cure a majority of the world’s deseases, it’s just a matter of time. I often think that if we did actually find a cure for cancer and aids and however many other deseases and the death rate decreases dramatically, will overpopulation become an international problem? Also, if there was indeed a cure for aids and cancer, will people be more likely to do activities like smoking and unprotected sex? Just a thought. Also, I know biotechnology has to do with the Human Genome Project and I think the HGP is one of the most interesting and important projects going on in science right now. The future of human health lies in the hands of fields like biotechnology. The fact that we now know all of the base pairs of the human genome is inevitably going to lead to breakthroughs in so many more projects. It will also greatly aid advancement in all its related fields.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJycRYBNtwY

http://gizmodo.com/361343/human-genome-shirt-gives-you-nice-aaas

One of the topics I enjoyed discussing in class was the GFP bunny by Eduardo Kac. I think it’s insane that we can alter an animal that much with pure science. It’s funny to think that people could actually customize their pets in the future. Instead of just picking the type of animal and breed you desired, you could pick the color it glows when the lights go out. Also, if we can manipulate an animal’s genes like this with relative ease, how long is it going to be until we can customize specific features in humans. How long will it be until Gattaca becomes a reality? Speaking of which, the Gattaca clip we watched in class was one of my favorites. I believe that this is where biotechnology will eventually lead us. Things like being able to bring a child into the world with the least amount of health risks and choosing the sex of the child will inevitably occur.

double-helix staircase from Gattaca

This leads to the ultimate question: Should we play God? Many people believe it it would be immoral to alter human beings that. I for one do not believe in a god, so I don’t think there’s anyone to compete with. I say we take science as far as it can go without using human test subjects (embryos are okay) and without killing a significant number of animals (significant meaning don’t make anything endangered). Although I love animals, I am of the opinion that in the end human life is more important than animal life and therefore I believe any effort to improve or prolong the life of humans is worth it. Now this does not mean it’s okay to test products like make-up on animals, it would only be for important scientific purposes. It would be nice to limit the number of animals killed in order to achieve these important goals because pictures like the one below are pretty gruesome. I just hope that biotechnology can bring us into the future without the government or the any other obstacles getting in its way.

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