Paul Wolfe Ted Talk

  1. What are the risks of modifying non-human DNA (plants and animals) to achieve some specific goal?
  2. Goals of genetic engineering for (plant) food include Improving food taste, quality, resistance to disease, shelf life, appearance and size. IS such manipulation ethical? Why are why not? For all goals, or should we limit it to just certain types of goals? What should the "guiding principle" be in food manipulation.
  3. Consider the manipulation animals to achieve new features types of animals. Are this consistent with Christian ethics? Can you adapt a transforming initiative(s) for such actions?
  4. Now consider modification for humans. Consider each of the following, and argue for or against whether each should be done:
Modification Arguments for Argument Against Your Belief
Genetic therapy to for a disease within a single person      
Genetic therapy to for a disease that is passed on through reproduction      
Genetic manipulation in an embryo to treat a discovered disease      
Genetic manipulation in an embryo to select for desired characteristics (hair color, body type, etc)      
Genetic manipulation in an embryo to enhance human potential (lifespan, physical strength, intelligence, etc.)      


In the brave new world of the future only "valid" genetically engineered people have a future in a life of significance. Natural born children are condemned to a future of minimal jobs. High security insures only valids get entrance to important places.

1.) During a scene in Gattaca, Vincent’s parents visited a doctor who specialized in child conception to select for the best traits for his future brother. They hoped that his brother would have the best possible chances for a successful life. Some of the traits mentioned in GATTACA included intelligence, height and any possibility of inheritable diseases.

If you decide to have a child one day and are given the opportunity to select for special traits, would you do so? Why or why not?

2.) Molecular biology scientists have developed a technique which enables parents to select the sex of their future child. This technique simply separates the X carrying sperms from the Y carrying sperms, and then inseminating females with the preferred sex chromosomes. This procedure is currently banned in Canada except for medical reasons. Potential parents with sex-linked diseases may choose to have a girl, avoiding the possibility of having a boy with hemophilia, for example.

Should sex selection for medical and non-medical reasons be available for parents in Canada? In the rest of the world? What do you think are some implications of this technique?

3.) Imagine that you are in your late 30s or early 40s and decide that you want a child. You realize that you’re at greater risk of having a child with Down’s Syndrome. What sorts of genetic screening are available today? If you find out that this child has this condition, do you think it’s appropriate to have an abortion? Why or why not?

4.) During a gala party scene in GATTACA, a woman submits a saliva sample from a recent kiss to screen her potential boyfriend/husband’s DNA. Is she violating his rights by doing this without his knowledge? Is this in anyway similar to performing a background check? How much would a DNA screen reveal about someone’s personality and intelligence?

5.) Knowledge of one’s genetic screen could profoundly affect the price of insurance. Insurance companies operate on a risk assessment basis, where individuals with a greater potential of developing health complications are charged more than individuals who are deemed healthy. Actuarialists look at statistics to determine how

6.) Each character in GATTACA faced ethical dilemmas due, in part, to a society that emphasizes genetic perfection. To gain a better understanding of each dilemma, think about the goals, rights and duties of each of the characters listed. Proceed to fill in the chart below:

Person Goals Rights Duties
Vincent's parents      
Space Company      
Topic revision: r1 - 2014-04-23 - JimSkon
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platformCopyright &© by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding TWiki? Send feedback