UTNE Reader Project June 98

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UTNE Reader Project June 98

-- Anonymous, November 04, 1998


God in a Labcoat by Jeremy Rifkin, UTNE Reader, June 1998, pp.66-71 and p.106. Into the Future with Caution Rifkins article is concerned with issues which are considered inevitable for mankind and life as we now know it. We are approaching what scientists are calling the biotech century. Already there has been speculation on how much good and harm could be looming in our future. Most of us are aware that research is being conducted on improving, and sometimes genetically reconstructing plants, animals, and even human beings. This is being done in hopes of producing new drugs and treatments which will lengthen human life, get rid of suffering, and produce a new breed of healthy human beings.

In the face of these issues, two groups have emerged. First, the ecological scientists whose approach is based on a desire to find new ways of health prevention by improving the agriculture we now have and making it compatible with its surrounding ecosystems. The second group are the molecular scientists who envision physical gene surgery designed to cure the sick, produce a new breed of plants and animals, and extend life. Unfortunately, these new life forms could pollute and damage the biosphere.

While some aspects of these issues sound almost too good to be true, we have to ask ourselves the question - What is the price well have to pay? I believe each and every one of us will be affected as we enter into the next millennium. Its hard to compare and contrast these issues with my work experience because were not actually there, but as a teacher, I feel we will be faced with some serious dilemmas that could affect all aspects of teaching. If human beings are genetically created, to what extent will it be? Who will be selected to receive the genetic genes? Will those selected still retain their individualism as far as thought, attitude, and demeanor? What will be the level of their intelligence and will it vary for different individuals? Will teachers still be needed or will they have some kind of high tech training without a teacher? What kind of curriculums will be taught to our students? What kind of classrooms will they be taught in or will they just learn at home with the use of a television screen? Who is going to have ultimate control in this situation? Scientists? Politicians? Someone higher up?

Some of my colleagues feel that issues discussed in this article are approaching fast. It is felt that this is an extremely big deal, almost as big a deal as the forming of the constitution, and they would like to see the questions Ive mentioned addressed. While there is a need for research, especially in the areas of medicine and the environment, we also need to have some kind of governing body that will keep a check and balance in this area of science because of the ethics involved.

I feel the ideal situation would be for these two groups to work together and help each other. Unfortunately, there is too much controversy at this time, and for now, the commercial market openly favors the molecular approach for the simple reason it is the most profitable monetarily.

The biotech revolution will undoubtedly influence all facets of our lives and incite us all to reflect on, and question, the ultimate purpose of life, what our future holds, and what path well take to get there. We cant stop the future, but hopefully, as Rifkin states, well be able to control it before it gets out of hand and controls us.

-- Anonymous, November 11, 1998

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