Monday, November 17, 2008

Nov 17 Kitcher – Ch 8 (Inescapable Eugenics), Ch 9 (Delimiting Disease)

Kitcher’s talk of Darwin brings to mind questions about preserving bio-diversity. If we select for some genetic characteristics ideal for particular conditions, but the environmental factors experience a drastic shift, then is it not possible that all those with the previously ideal genes might no longer be the most fit for their new surroundings? This is no novel question; preservation of genetic biodiversity has been a topic of interest for years. Concerning genetically modified agricultural crops, for instance, if there is a sudden blight but all the seeds carry almost identical genetic material and are not resistant to the blight, then the entire crop will be lost. Yet, with biodiversity comes the hope that some individuals within a population are resistant, and those will live. I think there is too much of a temptation to start selecting for particular genetic characteristics in embryos unless we promote genetic diversity like we promote diversifying a stock portfolio – don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

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