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Ethical Boundaries vs Medical Science

Medical science has shown itself capable of performing a hugely diverse number of experiments and procedures, but are apparently publicly halted from stepping beyond so called ethical boundaries.

The fact remains however, that with capability becoming more commonplace, it is only a matter of time before currently ‘uncommon’ technologies become ‘common-place’ so much so that sensitive-technologies become available to uncontrolled labs whom have little regard to the ‘ethical boundaries’. Generally, we Joe-public expect that the establishment (whomever that is) is somehow in control of scientific experimentation especially where sensitive issues as genetic modifications, inter-species DNA experimentation and a whole host of variant technologies are concerned.

We might possibly be a fairly naïve species, however, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that in the long term, eventually, someone, somewhere is likely to overstep the ethical boundaries and create aberrations that should not in the public view, exist. Clearly, the likelihood is that the motives will not always be in the interests of healing, sometimes, power, money or weaponry will be strong motivators. Perhaps inventions created for one reason, will become more profitable for alternative uses.

Reasonable thought would suggest that there are already many issues that will never surface in the public domain that are researched by those far beyond controls of ordinary society. You nor I are likely to ever know or appreciate the fullness of it all. However at some point, our sensibilities will need to change so that we can accept a greater range of experimentation than we currently consider ethically reasonable because like it or not, technical progress is being made that increasingly denies the right to remain ignorant of the possibilities.

Take for example the current big news concerns about the environment. What if medical science discover ‘how’ to modify human genetics to create a man-made evolution to a new species of ourselves that are smaller, can withstand a wider range of environmental temperature, and can survive on less food or water, were less prone to disease and had a reduce need of large living spaces. Wouldn’t that produce longer, better prospects for survival on this planet?

Advanced technologies need not only create scary images of monstrous mistakes as depicted by movies, indeed, one thing most of us have in common is our desire to survive. Even if some folk out there do develop aberrations that attract money, they will still want to survive so that they can spend their ill gotten gains. The same can be said for weaponry, the winners want to survive, gain ground, defeat the opposition.

Of course there’s always going to be exceptions, mistakes, errors of judgement and insanity. For the most part however, extreme science researching what can be done with DNA, will likely be a good thing for us all in the long term.

Powerful arguments against some controversial emerging stem research technologies that utilise animal cells to host human DNA material – come from those concerned about the distinction between humans and animals. Creating a chimera (part man part animal) promotes visions of legend and horror, however, what actually is the distinction between animals and humans anyway? Humans, are animals. Mammals like ourselves are shown to share ancestries and evolution along with many different species. One might argue that the simple distinction of ‘brain-power’ alone is not a significant differentiator when one considers the commonality of complex mechanisms such as ‘blood-oxygen-conversion’ ‘digestion’ ‘procreation mechanisms’ let alone things like ‘sight’ ‘hearing’ ‘breathing’ ‘sleep’ the list goes on and on showing us how similar we are to other species of animals sharing this planet. In fact it is the very similarities of cells that enables scientists to experiment with the fundamentals of inter-species technologies. You don’t hear much about using plant cells to host human DNA do you!

There are many people of the opinion that adaptations throughout evolution have led to the creation of new successful species and that in order for life to survive at all, it must adapt. Whether or not it is ethically correct to utilise our evolved brain to create physical tools and methodologies that enable us as a species to mix genes in a test tube… The answer to that is a difficult philosophical argument that may take some time for people to resolve. What is in evidence however is that the human brain has in fact developed the methodologies and scientific technologies that allow such cellular manipulation as well as the motivations in their many guises that drive us as a species towards even further scientific development.

Whatever your opinion about the ethics and exactly where the boundaries are placed or when they should move, technological progress is unlikely to be stopped so long as mankind exists. Sooner or later we will simply have to accept the realisation that ‘yes’ someone will use a cows egg to create stem cells and ‘yes’ someone else might well grow spare human organs inside pigs.

About the Author: Ronnie Roberts - Author is the owner of education relevant sites | |

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