Sample Reading

Sample Reading Test

Sample Reading 1:

Genetic Improvements and Disease Prevention (15 minutes/12 points)


1. Which paragraph states the main concern of this article? ______________

(1 point)

2. What is the purpose of paragraphs 4, 5, and 6? (1 point)

3. According to this article, caring for faulty genes has an impact on the health care system. On the other hand, the health care system also has an impact on faulty genes. Explain this situation, using your own words. (2 points)

4. What two methods for the correction of genetic defects are mentioned in the article?
(2 points)

5. List three objections to the two methods described in your answer to question 4 above, i.e., What are the objections to the methods presently used in order to correct genetic defects? (3 points)

6. Match the number of the paragraph in the article to the sentence below which best summarizes the paragraph. The first one has been done for you.
(3 points)

a.     25      Discusses the master cells contained in the human embryo.

b. _______ Mentions the current situation of the law for therapeutic cloning.

c. _______ Describes research into the public’s opinion on the collection of human eggs.

d. _______ Lists the advantages of cloning.

Sample Reading 1

Genetic Improvements and Disease Prevention

1. According to recent reports, the government is contemplating investing in a bio-pharmaceutical firm, ReNeuron. One of the firm’s alleged crimes is that it has supported legislation allowing the cloning of human embryos.

2. Whatever the merits of this particular case, the fact remains that, if mankind is to escape a sickly future, we must accept this new technology. Detractors are quick to remind us of the dangers of designer babies once we remove our parents from their role as exclusive providers of our genes. Yet, like it or not, if humanity is not to become an endangered species, we must face up to the challenges of genetic engineering.

3. In spite of this growing public controversy, many people now support genetic engineering. Indeed, some people believe that unless we embrace cloning and other forms of genetic engineering, we will become a sickly and frail species.

4. The reason is the same one that brought us here: natural selection. Over millions of years, the simple mechanism that Darwin first described – let the strong survive and the weak perish – has turned us into the successful animals we are today. Every gene in our bodies has been passed from parent to offspring over millions of years. However, our genes are not unchanged by their passage through the generations. Replication of our chromosomes introduces errors called mutations.

5. All children acquire a few mutations on top of those inherited from their parents. Occasionally these will make our children run a little faster or think more quickly than ourselves, but mostly, they will do harm.

6. Our genes have been finely tuned to do a particular job inside our cells. Mutations are, by and large, random. Just as random attempts to repair your own car engine are likely to damage your car, random genetic mutations are similarly likely to damage your offspring.

7. In our genetic past, defective genes would have been weeded out by natural selection, their owners suffering disease, predators, or infertility. Modern medicine has changed all that. In the west at least, many of us survive and lead active lives with gene mutations that would have been fatal to our ancestors.

8. This is not just the case with single-gene defects like cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy that remain devastating, but the far more frequent mutations that predispose us to ailments like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.

9. A few hundred years ago, a child with diabetes would have been lucky to survive to adult life. Thanks to insulin injections, diabetics now have nearly as much chance as the rest of us to leave their genes to the next generation. The same is true for scores of other diseases. Infant mortality in Palaeolithic times was probably higher than 50%. Bad genes, or bad combinations of genes, didn’t make it through to the next generation. Now we see most of our offspring provide us with grandchildren, whatever their genetic inheritance. What consequence does this have for Darwinism?

10. Simply stated, Darwin’s theory of natural selection requires death. Without the cruel separation of the fit from the weak, we will grow weak. We are healthier and will live longer than our parents, but our genes are not improving. Modern medicine and improved living conditions rescue us from our imperfect genetic inheritance.

11. As a nation, we spend less on healthcare than almost any other wealthy country, but 6.7% of everything we earn goes to keeping us alive. Each government promises to spend more. Health advisers may pin their hopes on lifestyle changes to reduce the burden of disease, but most of the risk for cancer and heart disease is in our genes.

12. As our genes become increasingly faulty, our bodies will require more and more medical intervention. Use it or lose it is the advice of physiotherapists to those with mobility problems. It applies equally well to genes.

13. The provision of healthcare has brought about the greatest shift in selective pressure on the human species since we transformed from apes and came down from the trees. The grip of death, commonly known as the grim reaper, has been loosened, and our genes are free to roam the murky paths towards ill-health.

14. The consequences will take many generations to be realized, but they are inevitable. There is no way to stop mutations accumulating in our genes. As long as we have health care providers to carry the burden, genes that introduce disease will multiply. We will become enfeebled parasites of our health system. It’s as inevitable as taxes.

This is a sample only. Paragraphs 15 to 35 have been omitted from this sample.

36. Yet, many patients are dying because there are too few human transplant donors. Groups in Great Britain and the United States have been working to develop a line of genetically engineered pigs with human-compatible hearts to provide a supply of organs that would survive immediate rejection by the immune system. Nevertheless, there is concern about spreading unknown pig viruses to the human population.

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