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In the Real World

Ethics and Biotechnology

Biotechnology is moving forward at a rapid pace. Scientists are able to do what was once thought to be impossible. While the advances are beneficial in many aspects, not all of these are without serious ethical implications.

Where should we draw the line? As we begin to learn more about which genes control which traits, will parents eventually be able to pick designer babies? Maybe they really want a little brown haired, blue-eyed girl. If science gets to the point where this is possible, is it ethical, and should it be allowed?

The ethical implications regarding the source of stem cells have been hotly debated. For embryonic stem cell lines, an embryo had to have been destroyed to establish this cell line. Some people argue that the embryo (sometimes created by a fertility clinic and will never be used) will be destroyed, so why not use it for the advancement of science and medicine. Others argue that life has been destroyed. Research with stem cells from umbilical cords and induced pluripotent stem cells avoids these sticky issues.

We talked about Dolly, the cloned sheep. What's next? How long until a human being is cloned? Should this be allowed?

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