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The Manipulation of Genetic Traits (From Emile KAHOUN, Lycee Yadega)

Today, much work in genetic engineering concerns the future of all mankind. Genetic scientists will soon be able to create 'ideal' human beings. However there is much disagreement about what a 'perfect' genetic inheritance is.....
Three traditional techniques of controlled breeding can be described. One is hybridisation, which means crossing two different kinds of plants or animals. The result is a hybrid. Crossing a male donkey and a female horse, for example produces a mule. A mule is a hybrid animal. A second breeding technique is the creation of mutations. In this method, scientists use changes in cell structure to alter plants and animals. For instance, different types of radiation and chemicals are applied to the penicillin to derive the drug penicillin.
A third technique for breeding improved animals is the selection of most desirable parents for producing offspring. This is often combined with artificial insemination. In this method, semen is collected from a top quality male animal. The semen is then placed in the reproductive organs of females. One way this method is used is in the producing of fast, beautiful horse and large and meaty cattle.
The genetic selection of human beings is also being experimented. Many medical institutes in the U.S.A and elsewhere have sperm banks. These are laboratories or clinics where human sperm is collected and kept alive. It's used for artificial insemination of women. In some cases, the sperm banks collect sperm from individuals who are especially intelligent, such as Nobel Prize winners. Some scientists think that the children resulting from this donated sperm may inherit the high intelligence of their fathers. The mothers are carefully chosen also.
A study by Lewis M. Terman in the 1920's suggests that the genetic theory behind sperm banks has some truth in it. Terman's study indicates that the parents with high intelligence also have children with high intelligence. This has convinced some people that 'superior' genes exist. Therefore, some people think that sperm banks can help mankind avoid dysgenic. Dysgenic is evolution toward a lower rather than a higher level.
Many people however do not approve the genetic selection of humans. They say it is similar to the ideas of Hitler and the Nazis in trying to create ' super race'. They wonder what the definition of a ' perfect human' is. They question the concept that one individual has the right to control the destiny of others.

Drobnic, K. et al. Reading and Writing the English of Technology.


1° Using your own words explain the three traditional techniques of controlled breeding. (6 marks)
2° Can you explain how the genetic selection of human beings is experimented? (5 marks)
3° According to the text, what is dysgenic? (3 marks)
4° Do you agree that genetic scientists can create 'ideal' human beings? Justify your answer. (6 marks)
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