9th Honors English
10 April 2015
Bioethical Issues in Flowers for Algernon Genetic engineering has always been a controversial topic in society. The question of whether we should modify our genetic code for our benefit proves to be a difficult one. The novel Flowers for Algernon tries to show the effects such an experiment might have. In Flowers for Algernon, Keyes does not support the experiment that alters Charlie’s intelligence, by emphasizing Charlie’s inability to properly associate with others, and by pointing out the moral issues the scientists. Although Keyes disagrees with the tampering of humans, I personally believe that we should try to use biology to attempt to aid the world in a more constructive way.…show more content… From the beginning of the psychological experiment, Charlie had little to no input over the beginning of the experiment and the surgery, for it was his sister who signed him up. He came into the experiment with no knowledge of the experiment itself, and he had willingly allowed his body and mind to be used on the permission of others. It became apparent throughout the novel that Charlie felt as if he was not being treated as a normal human being. Clearly, Charlie feels furious over the fact that Nemur fails to treat Charlie like a human: “The problem, dear professor, is that you wanted someone who could be made intelligent but still be kept in a cage and displayed when necessary to reap the honors you seek. The hitch is that I’m a person” (Keyes 172). Charlie feels as if he is being contained, being held back and humiliated, like Algernon. Also, Keyes points out the issues of the scientific process and how Nemur is constantly pressured to rush the project. When Charlie walked into the lab, he overheard a rather questionable conversation between Nemur and Strauss over whether to send out an early report. “The argument went on that way with Strauss saying that Nemur had his eye on the Chair of Psychology at Hallston, and Nemur saying that Strauss was riding on the coattails of his…show more content… First of all, genetic modification of animals and plants is not only inevitable, it’s already possible. Humans are already modifying plant species to our benefit, making them yield more healthy and nutritious crops. These genetically modified foods (GMO’s), have already become a worldwide phenomenon, already replacing most of the food that Americans eat today. For humans, “It’s not a question of can we, but should we” (Gashi)? Gene therapy has slowly began to live to its claims, and now that is beginning to prove to be a safe and effective method of curing genetic diseases and disorders, such as leukemia and colorblindness. It is proposed that “the first US approval of a commercial gene treatment… may come in 2016” (Gashi). This might mean that many lives can be saved or made complete with the use of gene therapy, and that benefit clearly outweighs the cons of gene therapy. Also, therapeutic cloning, or the cloning of separate organs and body parts could prove to be a scientific breakthrough, allowing us to make new body parts for victims of diseases and accidents. However, I do believe that we should set reasonable boundaries of genetic testing. Reproductive cloning, or the cloning of an entire human, forces us to ask moral questions over what it means to be human and what rights would a clone have.