Genetics

Attack of the Genetic Sheep how not to over React to Scientific Advances



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On the 24th of February, 1997, the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from the nuclear DNA (deoxy-ribonucleic acid) of an adult animal, was announced to the world. She was actually born on the 5th of July, 1996, and her survival through to adulthood brought cloning from the realms of science fiction into reality. Hollywood makes its money in the science fiction movie genre by highlighting the negatives, in much the same way as our News programs always seem to stress the negatives of our world. While it is legitimate to be concerned about how technological advances will be used, and demand our say in ethical decisions regarding such, do we really need to fear the fictional concept of mad scientists out for world domination?

It is perfectly natural to fear what we don't understand, and let's face it, how many people actually understand even a tenth of the stuff that technological advancement has provided us with in recent years? Just 100 years ago, cars were a novelty, hard to believe today! Twenty years ago we marvelled at the ability to record television shows on video cassette tapes, yawn ... has-been technology now.

Keeping up is the hard thing nowadays. No-one has the time any more to fear what is already here, but it is the possibilities that science conceives and the media dramatises that still digs deep into our innermost psyches. We question what the world will become and secretly fear whether we will be able to cope. But we will. Each and everyone of us will take and use what we choose to from scientific advances and discard or ignore that which is of no interest to us.

The latest bugbear, as the title of this article implies, is that of genetic engineering and in particular human cloning. Will it happen? It is still someway off because there are considerable technical difficulties involved, no primate has been successfully cloned, yet alone a human. But in all likelihood the scientists working in the field of biotechnology will eventually develop the ability to clone humans. But is that likely to affect anyone who isn't a multi-millionaire?

Even if the technology becomes available to us all, are you really going to pay a fortune for a genetic duplicate if you already have children? To what point?

The tools that scientific advancement can and regularly does provide us with may change HOW we do things, but WHY we do things is intrinsic to our human nature, and that is not likely to change for a very long time, if ever.

It may be and probably is reasonable to fear some scientific advances, but we all have more immediate fears to consider. You are more likely to be hurt or killed in a car accident than a plane crash; being detrimentally impacted by a scientific advance is even more remote, unless it is in the pocket because we had the misfortune to invest in the wrong stocks.

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