Monday, February 4, 2008

Criminal Profiling Topic Of The Day: The Other Side Of The Coin

My long fascination with the use of DNA in forensic science has led me to contemplate the subject of genetically engineered persons. In all of the above examples, these individuals had some type of physical or mental imperfection. Yet they gave us some of the greatest gifts that society enjoys today through their talent, intellect, and scientific and artistic abilities. For example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of our greatest presidents, bringing our country out of the great Depression by passing minimum wage laws, creating the Social Security Administration, starting initiatives to replant our country's forests, and promoting the arts. FDR was also confined to a wheelchair after being stricken with polio. If there was a television in every living room in the United States as there is today, it is doubtful that American voters would have elected a man in a wheelchair to lead our country. It is difficult to imagine how this would have altered our involvement in World War II, and consequently, the entire course of our nation’s history.

What makes the people shown in the above cartoon different from anyone else with the same conditions and diseases or even people without any of these afflictions? Is it an inner strength, a will to over overcome adversity? If so, could this strength of will be a result of factors such as environment, experience, or interactions with other people? Could it be some kind of inherited gene, or a combination of all of these things? The truth is we can't be sure. The human race is made up of individuals, each one unique. This is true not only in our DNA and in genetics, but also in something we call the soul, or the human spirit.

In reality, cloning takes place every day, all around us- even in us. For instance, the cells of our skin are constantly reproducing, creating exact copies of other skin cells. Many organisms reproduce by asexual reproduction, creating new organisms by making exact copies of themselves, which can be considered cloning. Our crops can be genetically modified in order to resist disease, pests, and to have more nutritional value. Scientists have attempted to clone mammals for many years. Some have even been successful after many failed efforts at a cost of millions of dollars. The method used is called nuclear transfer. This involves removing the nucleus of a cell, which contains the organism’s DNA, from the donor cell and implanting it in an unfertilized egg. However, can this truly be considered a clone? Even if the nucleus is removed and implanted without damaging any of the genetic material, it must still interact with the cytoplasm of the unfertilized egg host, which interprets the DNA encoding.

In the case of humans and cloning, the preferred subject would be intelligent, and healthy in mind and body. However, the cloned individual would have none of the experiences and memories of the original person. So we must consider what constitutes a “preferred subject” and what doesn't. Should it be based solely on an individual's physical and intellectual attributes, or does the spirit and the inner self come into play- their emotions, thoughts, ambitions, experiences, and their ability to overcome life’s adversities?


Preraphazon said...

It overlooks the unconscious invisible instinctual biological forces that prompt us to mate with people who should help our genes survive. An example of this is there is some research that suggests that we may be prompted to mate with people whose immune defenses compensate for our deficits. There's also research showing various trends on the scale of sexuality, form androgynous to extremely male or extremely female that are all handled covertly by our unconscious resources. Cloning messes with this.

On the other hand, it isn't completely out of the natural selection realm since there are certain characteristics that are deemed preferable - but it overlooks the things we are too ignorant to understand, which are more important things for survival than physical attractiveness. It also pretty much ignores the social factors which determine who we are. There will never be an identical human clone -- only the body and some tendencies.

Donna Weaver said...

Hi raph!

Thanks for your comment. I read some of the same research, and I agree with you. Bottom line, in my opinion, Don't mess with Mother Nature" in the matter of cloning and humans!