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Genetic engineering altering the inherited characteristics of an organismin apredetermined way by introducing into it a piece of the genetic materialofanother organism Genetic engineering offers the hope of cures for manyinherited diseases once the problem of low efficiencies of effectivetransferof genetic material is overcomeAnother development has been the refinement of the technique calledcloning which produces large numbers of genetically identical individualsbytransplanting whole cell nuclei With other techniques scientists canisolatesections of DNA representing single genes determine their nucleotidesequences and reproduce them in the laboratory This offers thepossibilityof creating entirely new genes with commercially or medically desirablepropertiesWhile the potential benefits of genetic engineering are considerable somaybe the potential dangers For example the introduction of cancer-causinggenes into a common infectious organism such as the influenza virus couldbe hazardousWe have come to believe that all human beings are equal but even morefirmly we are taught to believe each one of us is unique Is that ideaundercut by cloning That is if you can deliberately make any number ofcopies of an individual is each one special How special can clones feelknowing they were replicated like smile buttons We arent just our geneswere a whole collection of our experiences says Albert Jonsen But theidea he adds raises a host of issues from the fantastic to theprofoundWhen anesthesia was discovered in the 19th century there was a speculationthat it would rob humans of the transforming experience of suffering Whenthree decades ago James Watson and Francis Crick unraveled the geneticcode popular discussion turned not to the new hope for vanquishing diseasebut to the specter of genetically engineered races of supermen and workerdrones Later the arrival of organ transplants set people brooding aboutaworld of clanking Frankensteins welded together made from used partsAlready there are thousands of frozen embryos sitting in liquid nitrogenstorage around the country Suppose somebody wanted to advertise clonedembryos by showing pictures of already born children like a product saysProf Ruth Macklin of New Yorks Albert Einstein College of medicine whospecializes in
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