Pros & Cons
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international, collaborative research program that was intended to map and understand all the genes in the human body. The project was completed in 2003 and for the first time all the genomes in the body were mapped. The project was controversial because of its applications. Many people thought the project would allow for human cloning and other manipulations of genes which could prove dangerous. The project also has the positive benefit of allowing scientists to identify genes which could be potentially dangerous such as the gene for sickly cell anemia.
Cloning is replication of an organism using what is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. In simplest terms, the nucleus (DNA) of an organism is transferred to an egg cell. This egg cell begins to mature using the transferred DNA. This creates and exact replica of the donor organism. Cloning is controversial because many people believe that human cloning could lead to degradation of the genetics in humans. Other people cite religious reasons. However, cloning does have many benefits if it can be perfected. If organs can be cloned then this would remove the need for transplants and would save thousands of lives and reduce the risk of rejection of organs.
DNA fingerprinting which is also known as DNA profiling is a method of recording DNA in images which forensic scientists can use to compare with crime scenes to make identification of victims and offenders. DNA finger printing is controversial because many people believe it is an invasion of privacy. However, DNA finger printing is more exact of a science of identification and has already helped to free many prisoners who were wrongly convicted.
Genetic engineering is the manipulation of an organisms genome in order to achieve an affect. For instance, many foods are genetically engineered to be resistant to insects and disease. This allows for larger crops to be grown. Genetic engineering is controversial because many people see the practice a dangerous because there is an unknown potential for danger. For instance, genetically engineering crops to be resistant to disease may create super diseases.
Stem cells are unspecialized cells capable of renewing themselves through cell division, sometimes after long periods of inactivity. Stem cells occur mainly in embryonic stages of development. Because these cells are unspecialized they can potentially be used to repair and create organs in the body. However, stem cells are highly controversial because in order to obtain them they may be taken from destroyed embryos.
Simon, E. J., Reece, J. B., & Dickey, J. L. (2010). Essential biology with physiology. (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings.