BP#2: Modifying the Human Embryo

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UK scientists get permission to move forward to genetically modify human embryos. The technique could help explain and ultimately eradicate many diseases in humans – but it is not without controversy.

Quite a puzzling feeling, isn’t it?

One major concern is that making changes to embryonic DNA could have “unknown harmful effects throughout an individual’s body”, and there is also the “risk of passing genetic ‘mistakes’ on to future generations”. However, scientists hailed the decision on Monday as an “encouraging step” in the road to producing life-changing clinical results.

According to Michael Davis on his essay, What Is It to be a Professional?, negligent and accidental obedience is a failure to exercise due care in our relations with others. In this case, others aren’t even “born” yet, these are human embryos. Davis states, “any distinction between what a profession requires and what is merely legally required cannot be made in terms of “due care” – or, at least, cannot be so made without inviting confusion. A profession does not need a code of ethics to be held to the standard of due care” (16). So how is the act of due care in negligent and accidental obedience involved with such a controversial topic, even if the action was approved to move forward, despite the various risks that could be detrimental to the human population?

“A profession’s code of ethics helps define what care is due from members of that profession and, in doing that, sets the standard of malpractice for the,. But, whatever the standard, anything less than good practice is malpractice” (16). The action of modifying human embryos as a practice for scientists addresses the need for advancement on tackling human diseases and shortcomings, as well as how to continue the existence of human kind beyond our years. It could lead to huge leaps forward in science and medicine but critics have warned that the pace of change is too fast. They fear misuse of such technology could lead to potentially dangerous treatments. So this negligent or accidental obedience can lead scientists to “follow the rules”, in which would lead to successful modification (or so we hope), but it also leaves room for error in which even the slightest mistake can be blamed on the overall instruction of the procedures; this modification of embryos then becoming a malpractice for scientists in an effort to change the world. Not only that, but with only a small board of people approving such a sensitive topic, these actions could be ethically immoral against religions, even that of the scientist. What ever happened to “God created you in his image”? Can this be categorized as negligent obedience? I think not. If such a scientific progression is saving lives (while in the process leaving room for error), I would trust that the decision can be affirmed based on the modern technology and advancements we have today. But can the standard of due care keep them from changing the world in the wrong way?



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