What drives all science? First motive is namely, the need to know and second is to identify the genetic basis for the 4 000 or so genes that are suspected to be responsible for the inherited diseases and prepare way for treatment through genetic therapy. This new knowledge requires new thinking about the ethical, legal, and social dimensions of life for the human beings whose cells contain deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), which is the subject of genetic research. There are eight major ethical issues that are now facing the genetic research.
1. Genetic Discrimination. It is possible that genetic research will identify and locate most, if not all, genes in the human genome that condition or in some cases cause disease. A person's individual genome would be become part of bank data to which all the health care providers have access. The advantage would be to alert medical care from womb to tomb could be planned and treated and cure genetically based diseases. The disadvantage would be to discriminate individual from obtaining jobs, insurance policy and create anxiety among people.
2. The abortion controversy. The viro fertilized (IVF) eggs at forth division can be analyzed for good and defective genes. Only one fertilized gene, which is deemed good and according personal preference is selected, and the rest are destroyed. The ethical issue is in pre-implantation genetic testing is the acceptability of discarding unwanted embryos. Those who view fertilized eggs as the point of at which human dignity and rights begin have argued that all such embryos must be placed in the uterus and given the opportunity to grow. Does the discarding of non-implanted embryos constitute abortion? Or the issue should be selective abortion. The Roman Catholic tradition argues "from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crime. Many churches reject genetic screen for economic and reproductive rights as discriminatory.
3. Patenting God's Creation. A legal question arises when biochemical companies use DNA for manufacturing. Religious groups are crying foul. NO, we cannot patent God's creation. God's creation becomes rights of a company or an individual state to generate profits is an on-going ethical question now.
4.Cloning is becoming a fearful thing among ordinary people but an excitement possibility for the geneticists after the trial cloning of dolly the sheep in Feb 23, 1997. The idea was to produce milk producing cows, good tasting lamb etc. In human cloning, geneticists are looking to clone people with best intelligent quotient (IQ). The question is, how can we provide scientific justification for the value of diversity or uniformity in nature?
5. Genetic Determinism, Human Freedom, and the Gene Myth. It is a problem of the reality and myth. The fear among the public is, the genes will determine the people. The DNA will determine how people will behave and even control virtues and vices. The knowledge of DNA will be used in courts against a defendant. One's genes may account of a person's alcohol problem.
6. The Gay Gene and the question of original sin. Does a genetic predisposition to what many believe to be immoral behaviour makes us guilty or innocent? In 1993, a discovery was made of a possible disposition to male homosexuality. The bible teaches homosexual as sinful so such scientific evidence that indicate a sexual deposition is found in the genes render it non sinful? Who is to blame here? God or man?
7. Somatic vs. Germ-line Interventions. Somatic cell therapy as agreed by many as morally desirable because it treats severe diseases is of benefit to all. On the other hand, scientists manipulate genes for the quality of biological life for otherwise normal individuals or human race as a whole. The danger is and the question for the future is what would become of end result. What would happen if all the people are disease free or with high level of Intelligent Quotient? Can that be a health hazard too?
8. Are we asking scientists to play God? The debate over germ lining brings people to this 8th ethical question. It makes scientists put themselves in the place of God and only where God belongs. It is simply this. The "term 'playing God' refers to individuals or groups who are seeking to control life forms. Any attempt to correct our mental and social structures by genetic means to fit one group's vision of humanity is dangerous." That is playing God.