Is stem cell research ethical?

Do the benefits from stem cell research outweigh the ethical dilemmas? What are the potential ramifications?

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the personal views of the reporter, the Blue Print newspaper or Moffat County School District. Reporters are asked to take a specific position in order to share selected perspectives.

NO - by Bear Steadman

When Albert Einstein discovered how to split an atom, he envisioned scientific breakthroughs that would better mankind’s knowledge of life and the universe. Instead, his research was used to create the atom bomb, which is capable of only one thing, causing death and destruction. So who’s to say a similar outcome won’t come from stem cell research? It doesn’t matter how good someone’s vision or intentions are, we cannot ignore the fact that this research could be used for the wrong reasons.

A large percentage of older scientists are against furthering progress in stem cell research because of the potential negative effects. Many feel messing with human stem cells and DNA can only have detrimental results. There is proof that in some stem cell experiments, the participants suffer horrible side effects. For example, since 1981, the use of embryonic stem cells has had a common result, the development of tumors in the area the stem cells were injected. Because of this, many scientists and government officials feel that it is necessary that we discontinue funding and research in this field.

We also have to think about the possible side effects of genetic engineering on the human race. It is a well known fact that DNA changes over time. If everyone were to start getting genetically engineered body parts that could possibly contain “insignificant” genetic differences, this could cause huge mutations in our DNA in future generations. If the DNA in a genetically engineered ear were slightly altered, wouldn’t that leave room for the possibility of genetic mutations for that person or maybe even their kids some day?

Another extremely controversial issue involving stem cell research is animal rights. Experimenting on animals has been a big issue for quite a while and will become an even bigger if we continue to experiment with stem cells. Scientist are now able to grow human body parts on animals. So far they have only been able to replicate small body parts. The reason behind this is to see if the rat’s body would support and grow a foreign body part, but obviously at the animals expense. Although there will never be a rat to human transplant (the ear would not survive after being detached from the rat) growing human body parts on animals is cruel and unfair. The goal of science should be to better our understanding of life and the universe, to see how things work and how we can use them to make the world a better place, not to torture animals with cruel experiments or to genetically manipulate life.

We need to ask ourselves these kinds of questions before we jump into research that can have such a major negative impact. One small mistake or miscalculation could lead to one big catastrophe and we possibly could face some serious problems in our future. This decision is ultimately up to our generation.

YES - by Sarah Dippel

Over the years, science fiction movies have made fun of cloning super humans. They were stories purely for the amusement of the audience. In the late 1960’s however, stories that people thought were merely fictional started coming true.

Stem cell research has opened many doors that have been locked for the past 50 years. The cure for diseases, preventing birth defects, growing new skin, and even new appendages for burn victims and amputees had scarcely been thought of until stem cell technology developed. The recent research scientists have been performing is giving them the opportunity to do all of these things. Skin as well as organs such as noses and ears would be available for burn victims.

Eventually, with the help of stem cell advancements, scientists will be able to cure Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly even cancer. It will be able to prevent disorders such as Autism and Down Syndrome as well.

There have been many controversies surrounding the continuation of stem cell research. One major issue that has been talked about is that retrieving embryonic blastocysts from unborn children is equivalent to murder. The only way to retrieve these blastocysts is to extract them from embryos, which destroys the embryo. To some in the religious community, this is murder. In 2007, scientists found a way to extract embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos. This research does not constitute taking human life. Scientists are attempting to make human life better and more beneficial. Hopefully, this will bring peace to the religious community.

The discoveries scientists have made with stem cell research are unbelievable. Using stem cells to make human beings stronger and more intelligent has also been discussed. Although scientists haven’t gotten this far in the research, the potential is still wide open. The possibilities that are available to society are almost unreal.

Many benefits come from scientists researching stem cells. If scientists can continue, they’ll be able to cure the diseases the world has been struggling with for many years. The tragedy and pain burn victims have to go through would be greatly alleviated, and no one would ever have to worry about waiting in line for the next available organ or the potential of having it rejected by the body. Using stem cells would make life better for those who are suffering.

If society refuses to accept stem cell research, how are scientists supposed to discover these cures? This is the largest breakthrough in history for eliminating diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. It might be another 50 years before scientists find another idea. This is not an opportunity that can be squandered.

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