---> Due March 10th, 5 pm <---
Final Exam -- 97W
Bio 4, 1997 (W)
Rules: In compliance with the Dartmouth honor principle, all the work
you hand in on this exam is to be your own. Please remember to
be precise in your wording scientific descriptions rely on accurate use
of specific terms. Also, try to keep your answers concise. If you can say something briefly there is no need to create
a lengthy answer just to fill up space.
For this exam, please choose
of the following questions. Do not answer more than one question.
Your answer should be a maximum of 6 printed pages (this is a limit not a goal) -- anything beyond six pages will be ignored. A page
is defined as an 8.5" x 11" sheet with one inch margins. The font
should be 12 point Times and text should be double spaced. The
bibliography (and any figures you might have) should be at the
end of the paper and will not count towards the page limit. You
can cite references in the body of the text using numbers.
This exam is open book. You can use your notes, the web, the library, newspapers, etc.
You cannot talk to others about your answer, though-- the work you hand in must be entirely
Questions (choose ONE): Please be sure to state the question (A or B) you are answering and be sure to provide a title for your essay. You should address the general issues raised
and not necessarily focus on answering the specific items that
are mentioned (although you certainly can address them). They
are provided to help you understand some of the issues that need
to be addressed. The question you should address is in red.
A. Genetic engineering impacts a wide range of issues. These can
range from the manufacture of high value products (i.e. those
that can be sold for high dollar amounts) for sale to relatively
small markets, to low value products (i.e. those that cannot be
sold for high dollar amounts) for sale to large potential markets.
It is clear that businesses can make a profit by manufacturing
high value products -- they are costly to manufacture but they
can be sold at high prices. The high value products will benefit
a limited number of people (e.g. anti-clotting factor for hemophiliacs,
human insulin for diabetics, or human interferon for special cancer
treatments). On the other hand, it is not clear that businesses
can make money on products that are low value products (e.g. converting
biomass to ethanol, or the production of an anti-malaria vaccine).
Would a company spend large amounts of money to develop a product
that might help millions of people if that company was not confident
that they could sell their final product at a reasonable profit?
If the low value products are targeted at underdeveloped countries,
those countries may not have the resources to buy the products
their people need. This is where there is a dilemma. How would you go about developing incentives to encourage companies
to invest in "low value products" that can impact millions of
people? What incentives would you use? Is there a moral obligation for developed nations to create such
products to help those in developing nations? Who should pay for
the research (keep in mind that the researchers need to get paid)?
The third world countries do not have money to invest, but what
incentive is there for companies in developed countries to invest
their money in making a product that might not be marketable -
even though it might be the "right thing to do." Is there a moral
obligation for the underdeveloped countries to support these efforts
to help their populations?
B. As you all are aware, scientists working in Scotland recently
were able to produce a sheep named Dolly, who is the exact "clone"
of another sheep (her mother? her one parent?). Genetically identical
individuals occur naturally in identical twins and we know from
twin studies that environment can play a major role in determining
how individuals might differ even though they have the identical
genetic makeup. You might think of these cloned sheep as identical
twins who were born years apart. They have identical genetic makeup
but are subject to the influences of their environment during
maturation. The cloning process involved isolating mammary gland
cells from a donor sheep (mom) and growing those cells in culture
for a number of weeks. A nucleus from one of these cells was isolated
and then implanted directly into a sheep egg cell from which the
egg cell nucleus had been removed. This egg cell with the (diploid)
mammary gland cell nucleus was then implanted into a "surrogate"
mother sheep and allowed to develop normally in the womb leading
to a natural birth -- Hello Dolly!
The stated aim of doing this is to enable pharmaceutical companies
to modify the above protocol and introduce a foreign gene into
the mammary gland cells before using their nuclei as the genetic
donor material for a new sheep. The resulting sheep would produce
a protein product from the inserted gene and that product could
then be isolated from the sheep's milk. This approach provides
a powerful method of generating products for use in medicine that
might not be producible any other way.
Yet despite this promise of "miracle" products, there have been
some serious concerns raised by this experiment. Should this kind
of cloning be done? Does the ability to manufacture a product
that could alleviate a large amount of suffering (e.g. treating
cancer) justify the approach? Is it better to let people suffer
and die and forbid this kind of research? Should different rules
apply to animal cloning compared to human cloning (yes, I know
humans are animals)? Discuss some of the moral, ethical, and regulatory issues raised
by this kind of cloning and indicate how far you believe this
research should proceed. What kind of regulation should be imposed,
This file last updated on 03/03/97 at 10:49:51.