Week 2 Response/Bioengineering and genetic modification

photo credit to dailygalaxy.com

With technology rapidly advancing in the past years, people have made the impossible to the possible, and that of course includes the medical aspects. More and more resources are becoming available for better treatment in people’s health, to the point that scientists are able to modify one’s genome in order to make him or her better in all possible ways. However, as cool as it may be, this type of technology raises issues based on ethical and also religious reason.

People are curious creatures, so it makes sense why they want to know everything about their bodies. The history of scientific research of the human body dates way back to B.C era, where scientists dissect dead bodies (sometimes their own) in order to learn what is inside their body. In order to record about the human structures, scientists simply draw what they see. In this sense art and science correlate with each other. As a result some artists began to use these discoveries by either presenting them or reacting to them as some type of art.

“Some seem simply attracted to the aesthetic forms of molecular structures. Other dwell on a theme that I refer to elsewhere as ‘genetic essentialism,’ a view of genes as powerful and deterministic entities, as central to understanding the human condition. Still others use their art to express their fears of a technology they believe to be out of control. For DNA artists the biological gene—a nuclear structure—appears as a cultural icon, and the science of genetics provides a set of visual metaphors through which they can express the essence of personhood, the nature of human destiny, and, especially their concern about the social implications of an expanding, important, but historically dangerous scientific field.”

-In “The Gene as a Cultural Icon,” Dorothy Nelkin

Just as Nelkin mentions about the danger in scientific field, genetic modification can lead to controversy about the act on deliberately changing nature. Although the sole purpose is to improve human health and prevent diseases, preselect genes to help us decide what our future generation should be like is an important issue to be thinking about. Genetic modified product on livestock is also an issue that can probably make our lives easier, but also at the same time harm our health through these inorganic changes.

In response to this issue, there are opinions made that disprove about bioengineering and genetic modification. One of them is the movie Gattaca, which is about a man unable to get his dream job just because his genetic-make up is not suitable for the higher class job. The man, whose name is Vincent, finally got the job after disguising himself as someone who has a perfect genetic-make up. The society in this movie basically predetermines people’s fate by only looking at what they’re “made of,”genetically. It categorizes people and is able to shun those who have imperfect genomes. Vincent obviously proves this wrong by going against this system, and at the end he succeeded. The other one is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. The novel is about the making of an entire different species, named the Crakers, who are supposedly better than the humans. However, as much as the maker wants the specie to behave in certain ways, the Crakers failed to do so. The argument made from these two examples is that genetic modification does not necessarily make our life better. There is still a lot of factor that comes into play when determining what our lives should be like, and modifying how nature works should not be the only one nor should be the most important.

a visual of the pigoons from Oryx and Crake, photo credits to Stephanie Mills

-Kammy Yuan

presenting week 10


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