GRE Issue Essay 142

“Government should place few, if any, restrictions on scientific research and development.”

We have all heard, “Science is a necessary evil.” Why was this saying coined? The reason is evident as all research work in science has two aspects. The results of scientific research can be used both for constructive purposes as well as for destructive purposes. The probability of the result of a scientific research being misused assumes greater importance when the research is being carried out by private companies and organizations. Therefore, it is imperative that the government puts some form of restrictions on scientific research and development.

Research work in the field of nuclear science has always been a controversial issue. The energy produced by nuclear reactions can be tapped for constructive purposes like generation of power. At the same time, this nuclear energy can also be utilized for developing weapons for mass destruction. If a private company carries out research for fabricating nuclear weapons, then it is bound to make a lot of profit by selling these weapons to revolutionary outfits and other countries. This would lead to a volatile situation wherein the power to cause destruction on a large scale would be available with numerous organizations. Is this acceptable? We all know the aftermath of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Can we afford to let it happen again? It would be worse if it happens at the hands of a terrorist outfit. The memory of the terror attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York is still fresh in our minds. The widespread destruction as the result of a probable terror attack based on nuclear weapons confirms the fact that there is a requirement of restricting the scientific research and development of nuclear energy.

One cannot refute the fact that the greatest contributions to the progress of mankind have been made by scientists who carried out scientific research on their own without having to seek permission from their respective governments. However, the scenario today is entirely different from what existed centuries ago. In the present times, the quest to earn huge amounts of money and fame has reached alarming proportions. People are willing to go to all possible extents to make their lives more comfortable. Surgeons have carried out research work and developed compounds like botox that can wipe years off your face by a couple of injections. This may be useful for people who are associated with the glamour world and who earn their livelihood because of the youthful appeal of their faces. However, what about the common people who are now getting addicted to annual botox administrations? Won’t these have side-effects? For how long can one conquer age? If one does intend to remain youthful all his life, then is mutating the genes of human embryos justified?

Research is already underway for cloning animals, but there is widespread speculation about the results of similar experiments on humans. Is it warranted to have a baby that is the clone of a popular movie star or a clone of his own brother or sister? What would be the result if such a technology falls into the wrong hands? People can use this for creating clones that will carry out crimes by impersonations. All this will be possible if the research work on human DNA is allowed to be carried out without any restrictions. At the same time, one cannot deny the fact that extensive research on human DNA has led to the emergence of the stem cell technology that can cure you from terminal diseases later on in life.

In view of the above, it is evident that putting stringent regulations on scientific research work would not be a wise decision. Nevertheless, there should be some restrictions applied by the government on all forms of scientific research to ensure that the technology being developed will be used for the betterment of mankind.