Here's a list of possible topics we came up with on September 22, supplemented with some additional ideas:
- animal/human hybrids
- antibiotic resistance in bacteria
- biological warfare
- brain uploading
- calorie restriction
- cancer treatment
- cell regeneration
- commercial DNA sequencing
- crop biotechnology
- designer babies
- detecting gene doping
- drug delivery (nanotechnology)
- embryo selection
- embryonic stem cells
- engineering bacteria for human drugs, bioremediation
- engineering vaccines into plants
- estrogen-mimicking compounds
- ethics of messing with "life"
- evolution of a genetic disease
- gene doping and testing
- gene therapy
- "genetic essentialism"
- genetic reprogramming
- genetics and the environment
- genetics of obesity
- GMOs (in the food industry, medicine, containment)
- human cloning
- immune system enhancement
- invasive species
- life extension: strategies, ethics
- memory/cognitive enhancement
- military applications
- mitochondrial flushing
- nature vs. nurture
- neural stem cells in AD or PD
- organ farming
- organ transplants
- political angle
- recovering extinct species
- religious angle
- reproductive cloning
- sex selection
- stem cells (ES and non-ES)
- telomere stability
- viral vectors
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These are a few years old, but here are clips from the world's most reliable news source detailing new developments in bioengineering plants and humans.
Of the numerous books I considered adopting for this course, there are two which are particularly good, and which you might want to look at. Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau opens with the sentence "This book can't begin with the tale of the telekinetic monkey." Enough said. The other is Gregory Stock's Redesigning Humans. Stock focuses on the biological, while Garreau ranges more widely in what he discusses, but both are very well written and excellent resources for further reading.
Here is an essay from Prof. Ruth Schwarz Cowan's recent book, Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening; the essay is entitled "Medical Genetics Is Not Eugenics."
You may be interested in "a paper written as a background for discussion" by Schichor et al. entitled "Should We Allow Genetic Engineering? A Public Policy Analysis of Germline Enhancement." It presents a number of arguments against genetic engineering and points to a number of other resources.
Anita Allen examines some of the arguments in favor of genetic enhancement in an article entitled Genetic, and Moral, Enhancement and finds them wanting.