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The Ethics of Species Manipulation

Tom Hartman , Ross Williams
S & CB 5 (2)
October 1993


Life on Earth may be subdivided into discrete taxonomic groups called species using a variety of criteria. Any given species, however, may exhibit variation in different locations and through time. There are numerous natural ways in which the species barriers may be broken for gene flow to occur between diverse organisms of different kingdoms. Human manipulation of some species has acted as a strong selective pressure for millennia resulting in many domesticated breeds. This has been enhanced In the last few decades to such an extent that many animals suffer unduly for the sake of economic expediency. Modem technology may be seen as a refinement of these otherwise crude techniques that, in themselves, often mimic natural phenomena. Genetic engineering may be able to circumvent some of the results of the domestication of both ourselves and other organisms, but careful monitoring, legislation and education are needed in order for the advantages to be conferred without risk and exploitation.

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