Is Genetic Engineering Ethically Justified

Decent Essays
OCR AS Level Ethics
Genetic engineering
Example of part (b) question

(b) “Genetic engineering is ethically justified.” Discuss [10]

Since the development of genetic engineering in the 1970s, scholars have questioned its ethical justification, claiming that it was playing God’ and was unnatural. Others claimed that humans have always altered their environment to benefit themselves. An example is that of genetically modified crops which some people believe can be justified for a number of reasons. The food has better taste and quality and a greater resistance to pests and diseases; it is environmentally friendly in that it does not require chemical pesticides and will conserve soil, water and energy; and it offers the world’s
…show more content…
The Roman Catholic Church, which bases its ethics on Natural Law, is positive about advances in science that improve human life, but never at the expense of human life, which is sacred from the moment of conception. Natural Law has the primary precept of self-preservation and from this may be deduced the secondary precept ‘no embryo research’, as it destroys life. However, it could be argued that the research can be justified, as it preserves life by curing diseases. Many Protestant churches follow Situation Ethics’ principle of agape in their consideration of embryo research. Joseph Fletcher saw a human as ‘a maker and a selector and a designer’ who acts morally when in control of genetics. He was not opposed to IVF and therefore it could be concluded that embryo research is the most loving thing to do with spare embryos when the only other option is to destroy them, especially when the research could lead to cures for terrible diseases. However, creating embryos for the direct purpose of stem cell research is difficult to justify as the most loving thing. Christians in general seem to look favourably at genetic medicine, while acknowledging both the risks and the limits that should be imposed on research in terms of respect for human life. Utilitarianism is not restricted by the principle that human life has absolute value and so is able to assess each individual situation on its own merits to promote the
Get Access