The controversy surrounding stem cell research has been raging on in the media and among political circles for quite some time now. The whole issue basically centers on the creation, use and the elimination of human embryonic stem cells (Stem Cell Basics). This is mainly based on the use to which this research may be employed in the future and the impact it may have on human society in general. The destruction of the human embryo in the course of stem cell production is a very touchy topic indeed.
One statement that is grossly misunderstood with regards to the issue of stem cells is that there is only one kind. Stem cells are in the form of embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells which are relatively different and require different means of development. Thus many opponents of stem cell research are in theory, against embryonic stem cells and not adult stem cells which can potentially provide many benefits to patients and do not require the destruction of a human embryo (Correa). This can however be said to be a more or less scientific concept but needs to be understood broadly to objectively consider the ramifications of stem cell research.
Biology benefits a lot if this research is allowed to go on. To begin with, it could open a new chapter in human therapy as stem cells could be developed to counter a range of diseases including the incurable Parkinson’s disease. There is also the relative ease of use of embryonic stem cells compared with adult stem cells as they make up a significant portion of a developing embryo, making them easier to isolate and grow ex-vivo compared to the alternative. Other biological advantages include insights into gene therapy and use in research connected to related fields (Stem Cell Research).
These advantages however are seen in opposition with Ethics. Many contend that the destruction of human embryos and the apparent disregard for potential human life is something very harmful to society as a whole. It is further taken to diminish the worth of human life, sometimes being deemed as “murder” (Correa). There is also the case of this research going further and trying to perform human cloning which goes against the views of many that humans should not try and play God.
From the debate that is currently ensuing, one has to wonder about the limits if any, to which science must be subjected. Taking an objective view of human development, we see that scientific research has brought tremendous advantages to the human race and resulted in vast comforts ranging from automobiles and television to advanced health care. However, it has to be seen that there have been historical disadvantages of scientific research as well. The people involved in nuclear research rued the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which was never their intended purpose. Stem cell research may carry numerous potential advantages in terms of therapeutic purposes and curing diseases that plague a lot of people today. However, if there is a chance it could flow into the development of cloning technology and other areas which may start challenging the harmony of human society, then limits have to be placed on science. A moderated approach towards research may allow the benefits to be enjoyed while harm from excessive and unintended use to be avoided.
- Correa, Juan de Dios. “DECLARATION ON THE PRODUCTION AND THE SCIENTIFIC AND THERAPEUTIC USE OF HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS.” PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE. 2000. PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE. 2009. Web.
- “Stem Cell Research.” Issues in Society. The Spinney Press.2009. Web.
- “Stem Cell Basics.” Stem Cell Information. Stem Cell Information. 2009. Web.