How genetic modification of humans impacts on society and how society responds to it

Genetic Modification

Executive Summary

Genetic Engineering involves the process of manipulating genes of organisms in order to come up with a new organism. It can be used to create babies without biological fertilization in human body. This is considered by several researches as an unethical engineering process which may lead to various negative effects. However, it is an important biotechnological process that may be used by infertile persons to bear children and raise children with their own genes like normal families. This paper will provide an appropriate policy recommendation which gives an ethical recommendation of enhancing genetic engineering for the benefit of infertile parents. This will begin with a statement of the problem and its significance to the actors and stakeholders of this policy. The paper will also provide alternative policies and explain the costs and benefits of each alternative. It will then suggest an appropriate policy based on the costs and benefits of the alternative policies, suggest an implementation plan, and provide for monitoring and evaluation of the policy implementation.


Table of Contents

Executive Summary. 2

  1. Problem history. 4

1.1. Background of the problem.. 4

1.2. Current status of the problem.. 4

1.3. Importance of the problem.. 5

  1. Problem definition. 5

2.1. Statement of the problem.. 5

2.2. Statement of methodology used in analysis. 6

2.3. Actors involved. 6

  1. Alternative solutions/policies. 7

3.1. Alternatives considered. 7

3.2. Comparison of alternatives in terms of benefits and costs. 7

3.3. Constraints. 8

  1. Recommendations. 9

4.1. Description of Policy Recommendation. 9

4.2. Rationale for the recommendation. 9

4.3. Plan for implementation. 10

4.4. Provisions for Monitoring/Evaluation. 11

References list. 12


1. Problem History

1.1. Background of the problem

Genetic modification refers to the engineering process of manipulating genes of organisms (Glenn, 2004). It involves changing the genetic make-up of an organism or organisms to come up with a new organism. The first genetically modified organisms were bacteria in 1974. Later in 1974 mice were also modified genetically. Genetic Modification in humans is a new development. The first genetically modified humans were 30 babies reported by New Jersey researchers in 2001 (Hanlon, 2012). The team of researchers was made of members of the Reproductive Medicine and Science at St. Barnabas. This genetic engineering resulted in normal babies born of a woman and a man who were infertile, and a third person who was fertile.

1.2. Current status of the problem

While genetic modification in crops has been considered to lead to better taste and growth, genetic modification in humans has been viewed by some researchers as unethical. It may lead to introduction of harmful traits in human beings and may interfere with the diversity of human beings. Supporters of genetic modification argue that creating designer babies is a moral obligation and enables babies to grow ethically to better children by bringing together different good traits of infertile parents (Alleyne, 2012). Genetic modification and screening of babies still remains illegal for various conditions in many countries. However, some researchers suggest that this approach should be welcomed and appreciated.

1.3. Importance of the problem

Genetic modification of babies is an important problem that needs to be considered and addressed successfully. The problem enables scientists, engineers and researchers to promote ethical genetic engineering practices. It enables engineers and researchers to ensure that genetic engineering is used in an ethical manner in order to promote human life and not to destroy it (Hanlon, 2012). The problem also gives an opportunity for infertile parents to use genetic engineering appropriately in order to get healthy babies and live normal family lives with their own children who have their genetic inheritance.

Genetic modification as part of science and technology affects the lives of stakeholders. Kleinman (2005) suggests that science and technology affect lives. He claims that policies that are made on science and technology certainly affect how people interact and carry out their normal activities. Therefore, it is important for human beings to learn issues raised by the environment before engaging in any activity on science and technology (Kleinman, 2005). Developing a good policy will be necessary to avoid problems related to genetic modification.

2. Problem definition

2.1. Statement of the problem

Infertile parents without the ability to conceive babies on their own need to be given an opportunity to have children of their own and live normal family lives. With the genetic revolution enhanced by research and engineering, it is possible for parents to get children by using genetic engineering mechanisms (Glenn, 2004). However, it is unethical for genetic engineering to create babies from modification of genes from third parties and parents who have the ability of giving birth naturally. An appropriate policy to ensure that infertile parents get babies should be developed so that other people may not use the concept for other unethical purposes.

2.2. Statement of methodology used in analysis

This policy paper will mainly use secondary method of data collection. Information concerning genetic engineering and genetic engineering policy will be gathered and analysed using appropriate manner. The analysis will involve comparison between the benefits and costs of developing a genetic engineering on infertile parents and the society in general. These benefits and costs will be compared mainly for various policy alternatives. The alternative with the most benefits and least costs will be selected.

2.3. Actors involved

This policy will involve various actors or stakeholders. First, researchers and engineers will be significant in this policy formulation. They will be involved in finding the best ways to create genetically modified babies in the best way possible so that healthy and ethical babies are born to infertile parents. The government will also be involved in the legal perspective of the policy implementation. Infertile parents will also be involved to determine and take care of their interests in the policy.

3. Alternative solutions/policies

3.1. Alternatives considered

  • Legalize genetic engineering for infertile parents and allow them to decide whether to have genetic modification or not and choose engineers to do it.
  • Allow researchers and engineers to come up with genetic engineering methods and create awareness among infertile parents on these methods.
  • The government develops a genetic engineering center legalized to conduct genetic engineering for infertile parents and other conditions that are already legal
  • Ban genetic modification of babies completely

3.2. Comparison of alternatives in terms of benefits and costs

It is important to analyze the benefits and costs of the above policies from the perspective the main stakeholders of to be affected by the policy, especially infertile parents. The benefit of the first option of legalizing engineering for infertile parents and allowing them to choose an appropriate engineer for genetic engineering is that it meets the interests of all infertile parents (Rasko, 2006). In this case, those who prefer to have genetic engineering can do so willingly and those who don’t like it can abandon it. Another benefit is that it enables parents to have children like any other normal parent. The costs and risks of this alternative include increased costs of paying for the engineering services, risk of enhancing genetically modified diseases or development of new diseases and lack of enough support from the cabinet.

The benefit of the second alternative of giving engineers and researchers the power to develop appropriate methods of genetic engineering and creating awareness among infertile parents is that it increases the independence of researchers and engineers. This results in genetic innovation that may result in healthy and ethical children (Rasko, 2006). The cost of this alternative is that there is a possibility of enhancing new human diseases through the genetic engineering process. Furthermore, the costs of giving awareness to infertile parents and attracting them to create genetically modified babies are high.

The third alternative involves the government controlling the genetic engineering process by setting up an engineering center for the process. The benefit of this alternative is that it enables infertile parents to get babies through genetic engineering and raise their own families just like other normal parents. It is also cheap because it is managed by the government which will subsidize the engineering process. This alternative will also promote government involvement and support; hence its legality will ensure that it is ethical. The cost of this policy is that it will need government expenditure to set up genetic engineering center, which will involve the use of taxpayers’ money.

Finally, the alternative of banning genetic modification of babies is beneficial in that it avoids negative effects of genetic modification including the possibility of human diseases that may be created by the process. It also promotes ethical engineering and technology (Rasko, 2006). The alternative has the disadvantage of preventing infertile parents from having biological children with their own genes.

3.3. Constraints

The main constraint of this paper is the difference in ideologies, views and interests of various actors in the policy. This causes disputes among experts, which provoke difficulties for decision making and implementation of the policies (Martin and Richards, 1995). Researchers have varied perspectives on the issue of genetic engineering; others consider it as unethical while others consider it as ethical. Another constraint is lack of resources including finance to obtain the necessary engineering equipments needed for the process and human resources in form of engineers and researchers as well as policy experts in the genetic engineering sector.

4. Recommendations

4.1. Description of Policy Recommendation

This policy paper recommends the development of a genetic engineering center by the government or approval of private engineers by the government whereby engineers and researchers use appropriate biotechnologies to create genetically modified children for infertile parents (Hackette et al, 2008). The government should construct appropriate structures, purchase necessary technological and engineering equipment for the genetic engineering of babies. It should then hire qualified researchers and engineers to undertake the genetic engineering process. Implementation of the policy should involve group politics approach whereby the scientific controversy is solved by engaging various groups such as government, corporations, citizens and researchers and scientist experts (Martin and Richards, 1995). This is a pluralist form of democracy in which the opinions of all stakeholders, especially those affected directly (e.g. infertile couples) are involved.

4.2. Rationale for the recommendation

This policy is recommended because the government will be able to regulate genetic engineering process. The most important issue of genetic engineering is ethics (Davis, 2001). The government should therefore control the whole genetic engineering process so that engineers and researchers do not practice unethical genetic engineering. The policy will also ensure that genetic engineering is used only when it is necessary and in the best interest of infertile parents. Furthermore, this alternative enhances funding from the government. This is also an ethical perspective because many infertile couples which would like to have genetically modified babies may do so with fewer costs than when the process was left for the private sector.

4.3. Plan for implementation

The implementation will involve various stage and human and financial resources for each stage of the implementation process. These plans and time schedule can be summarized in the table indicated below.

Stage Human resources Financial resources Time period
Construction of structures Contractors and architectures $1,000,00 6 months
Purchase of genetic engineering equipment Government procurement department $20,000,000 3 months
Hiring of engineers and researchers Government engineering and technology department $5,000,000 2 months
Starting cloning process Engineers and researchers $1,500,000 1 month


4.4. Provisions for Monitoring/Evaluation

The policy implementation will include an evaluation and monitoring process. This will be led by the government and will include all actors. The progress of the policy implementation will be monitored and its performance will be measured against the plan. In case of any divergence of the implementation from the main plan, the government will take appropriate action in collaboration with engineers and researchers in order to bring changes that will bring back the process into the preset plan.


References list

Davis, M. (2001). The Professional Approach to Engineering Ethics: Five Research Questions. Science and Engineering Ethics, 7(3), pp. 379 – 390.

Hackette, E.J. et al (eds.) 2008, The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Martin, B. and Richards, E. (1995). Scientific Knowledge, Controversy and Public Decision Making. In Jasanoff, S., Markle, G.E., Peterson, J.C. & Pinch, T. eds. (1995). Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers.

Kleinman, D.L. (2005). Science is political/Technology is Social: Concerns, Concepts and Questions. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Rasko, J. E. J. (2006). The ethics of inheritable genetic modification: A dividing line? Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Glenn, L.D. (2004). Ethical Issues in Genetic Engineering and Transgenics. Accessed from   

Alleyne, R. (2012). Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor. The Telegraph

Hanlon, M. (2012). World’s first GM babies born. Direct Mail.


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B. Economics & Finance, B/ED, Writer, Educator with experience of 12 years in research and writing.

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