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The What If Factor

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Submitted By inglewood17
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The What If Factor

In “Ethics and the New Genetics” , the Dalai Lama is concerned about society being able to follow and uphold a moral compass while our technological capabilities advance, which is extremely easy and practical for a religious leader to say. What if the Dalai Lama is extremely wrong and biased in his outlook on what the world will look like after such major medical advances? The Dalai Lama says there may be many consequences of science on culture and society. In all reality, consequences will never be known unless; these medical and technological advances are introduced and tried out. Consequences and effects play a very major role in science; it is all trial and error. The Dalai Lama may try to give the good and bad sides of these advances; however, they are vague and cannot be taken as the “doctrine” or “moral compass” for society.
The Dalai Lama comes from Tibet, a place where people are not as nearly as modern or technologically advanced as Americans or other world powers. Tibetans have totally different priorities, morals and outlooks on life. So, how could the Dalai Lama expect for modernized people to follow his guidance when he comes from a background that lives for the future and not the present? In reality, the world is having so many medical and social issues now, from the swine flu outbreak to the present state of our economy. Do we forget about these present issues and just focus on a future world that may not even be here in the near future with or without the effects of science and technological advances?
Genetic engineering can increase the yield rate and lower disease in plants in order to provide more food production. This could be an outlet for the hungry and the poor, especially in under-privileged countries, like Africa or Cuba. Even the Dalai Lama has admitted this. But, the Dalai Lama feels as though it will not be used for good uses and will only be a new business venture. “Any new scientific breakthrough that offers commercial prospects tremendous interest and investment from both the public sector and private enterprise” (Dalai Lama 47). If the government puts precise and enforced laws onto these scientific advances and does not allow for it to be treated as a “business”, but as a solution to worldwide and social issues then genetically engineered plants could definitely work out for the better good of humanity. If technological advances are not accepted, this could be stifling society and humanity as we know it. This essay by the Dalai Lama goes beyond genetic engineering. These advances can help and promote growth in human unity and society. If people listen to everything the Dalai Lama protests against, we will not grow any longer and many social issues like world hunger will not be solved, genetic engineering will not be allowed growth and be able to flourish into something great.
“Whether we like it or not, we do not know the long-term consequences of introducing genetically-modified organisms into the wider environment” (Dalai Lama 53). Genetically-modified organisms will not affect our environment later, if it is studied and tested as thoroughly as possible for as long as needed to foresee any future long-term consequences. “It is essential, indeed it is a responsibility, for us to be much more critically self-aware about what we are developing and why” (Dalai Lama 54). The Dalai Lama feels this way, because of a lack of scientific knowledge and research. This is not his fault; it is the government and the scientists’ faults. You cannot blame society for not knowing something that has not even been 100% open to them. Society should know exactly what is going on with genetic engineering without having to do all the research themselves; the government and these scientists should show us what goes on behind the scenes and what they are doing exactly to eliminate any negative impact on our environment and its residents. Many of the people this will affect will not be scientists or government officials and these people will not know everything or anything at all about genetics, they just think they know. This is why it is imperative that society is allowed in on the real experiments, research and on the reality of it from the scientists and government, themselves not to make society feel like they are the blame for lack of knowledge.
We need an ethical system that will eliminate all the bad feelings about genetic engineering. “The higher the level of knowledge and power, the greater must be our sense of moral responsibility” (Dalai Lama 48). The government and the people need to come up with rules that will keep genetic engineering honest and will not allow genetic engineering to become corrupt or a merely just a business venture. There should definitely be rules regarding cloning and gene manipulation. Cloning should only be used for medical reasons and scientific research, not to allow someone to live for another lifetime or harvest body parts. However, the Dalai Lama should not totally shut out the idea of gene manipulation. People are tired of losing loved ones to incurable diseases. Gene manipulation could greatly reduce these losses; of course, there will have to be years of research involved and ethic laws applied, but it will be all worth it in the end. “In political matters, it will breed ruling elite, whose claims to power will be invocations of an intrinsic natural superiority” (Dalai Lama 51). A “superior human being” will not be created, if ethical laws are applied and gene manipulation is only used for medical reasons and is offered to everyone and not just the affluent.
There should be a system of genetic engineering laws and ethics, that genetic scientists, researchers, investors and the government has to abide by just like any other law. This system of rules should include about eight to ten major rules and these rules could eventually be amended to be better later in time. First, these researchers and all people in involved in the genetic engineering field should have to share their research, results and any other data with society. Second, genetic engineering cannot be treated as a business venture. The government will have to closely monitor the way these companies are selling and using these advances. Third, genetic engineering when used for medicine should be able to be covered by any insurance, Medicaid to the best health insurances and should be affordable for those who do not have any. Fourth, when genetic engineering is used to produce food faster, it should be labeled differently from regular products, so people know what they are buying and eating. Fifth, these genetically manufactured food products should be mainly offered to underprivileged countries. Sixth, people should not be allowed to harvest a body to live in the future. Seventh, people should not be allowed to create the “perfect baby”. Eighth, scientists should not be able to voluntarily predict a baby getting a disease and if they do find out, this should not be shared with anyone. Ninth, scientists should be allowed to try and eliminate only a certain number of possible diseases in a baby. Tenth, genetic engineering must be offered to all and not just a certain race, class or salary.
“How can we find this moral compass? We must begin by putting faith in the goodness of human nature, and we need to anchor this faith in some fundamental and universal ethical principles” (Dalai Lama 54). A moral compass is your beliefs, values and ethics all in one, these factors make us who we are and determine most, if not all of the decisions we make in life. In genetic engineering, a moral compass should definitely consist of the system of laws and ethics listed above. This moral compass should also include the compassion for humanity and the belief in equality that the Dalai Lama constantly touches on in “Ethics and the New Genetics”. However, a moral compass should not be based on our faith in another’s ability to be compassionate but our own ability to be realistic about others. We should make laws to give people no chose, but to have equality and compassion for human nature. Because, not all people have that compassion or mind of equality that the Dalai Lama hopes for and that is the reality of the current state of the world.
The Dalai Lama gives a very good argument and everyone has an opinion, but we also have to think about what is best for everyone and these medical advances could help society, but with reasonable restrictions. However, the Dalai Lama plays more onto being morally correct, but does not touch on exactly how we could change these negatives and turn them into positives. The Dalai Lama is a religious figure; he is not a regular, everyday person that lives in a modern world with modern views and ideas. “If we do not look after this home, what else are we charged to do on this earth?” (Dalai Lama 56) So, we must think about what is best for the world at its current standing as a whole. Using the genetic engineering system of laws and ethics stated above will definitely eliminate most, if not all major concerns about the healthiness, effectiveness and ethics of genetic engineering. Society must go through changes and try new things to continue our growth as a very intelligent human race. Genetic engineering is just another step towards our future.

Work Citied

Dalai Lama. “Ethics and the New Genetics.” Emerging A Reader. Bedford/St.Martins:
Boston, 2010.…...

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