Discussion: the ethics of biotechnology

View one or more of the following YouTube TED Talks about Biotechnology Ethics:

It’s Time to Question Bioengineering – Paul Root Wolpe (19:42) (Links to an external site.) – Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe describes an astonishing series of recent bioengineering experiments, from glowing dogs to mice that grow human ears. He asks: Isn’t it time to set some ground rules?

GMOs: Why We Should Give Them a Second Chance | Lee Dong | [email protected] (8:59) (Links to an external site.) – The term GMO has been bogged down by controversy. But what actually are GMOs, and is that controversy completely justified?

The Promise of Stem Cell Therapy | Neil Neimark, MD | TEDxAshland (17:35) (Links to an external site.) – Neil Neimark, MD and other doctors across the United States are part of a group that enjoys being on the cutting edge of the enormous possibilities and positive results that stem cell produces today and will continue to be a crucial part of wellness in the future.

The Use of Cloning and Stem Cells to Resurrect Life (10:37) (Links to an external site.) – In this Ted Talk, Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology and possessor for the Institute for Regenerative Medical Wake Forest University School of Medicine discusses the cloning of cells (somatic cell nuclear transfer) and cell reprogramming (iPs).

The Coming Trans-Human Era: Jason Sosa at TEDxGrandRapids (15:37) (Links to an external site.) – In this talk, IMSRV CEO and founder Jason Sosa connects the dots and takes you into the possible future of the trans-human era. He discusses the possibilities and the potential benefits.

Stem Cells: The Hype and The Hope (12:57) (Links to an external site.) – Human regenerative medicine will succeed, the questions are when and how. In this talk, Dr. Srivastava’s discusses his research and hopes for human regenerative medicine.

Technology Is Reinventing Humanity (11:38) (Links to an external site.) – In this talk, Jordan Nguyen explains his hopes for virtual copies of human beings. He explains research in progress and asks about the quandaries that lie ahead.

Gene Editing Can Now Change an Entire Species – Forever | Jennifer Kahn (12:25) (Links to an external site.) – CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, this technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now?

The Ethical Dilemma of Designer Babies | Paul Knoepfler (18:19) (Links to an external site.)  – Creating genetically modified children is no longer a science fiction fantasy. In this talk, biologist Paul Knoepfler estimates that within fifteen years, scientists could use the gene editing technology CRISPR to make certain “upgrades” to human embryos. In this thought-provoking talk, Knoepfler readies us for the coming designer baby revolution and asks what the right path is for genetic modification and humans.

Thoughtfully reflect on the issues discussed in the talks you have viewed. Address the following points in your discussion:

  • What is the speaker’s point of view about the topic? Is the speaker biased?
  • What ethical issues and ethical reasoning are argued?
  • Do you think that bio-engineering issues have moral and ethical implications? Why or why not?
  • Do you agree with the speaker’s point of view? Be specific and thorough. Express how and why you agree or disagree and discuss how ethics and values contribute to your opinion. Consider the theoretical concepts discussed in the course. Do not just state your viewpoint, rather provide relevant details to support your findings and/or position.
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