GP Comprehension Paper – Genetic Engineering & Humanity

General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Genetic Engineering & Humanity


(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the quality and accuracy of your use of English throughout this paper)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP) and you select the appropriate material from the passage for your answer, you still must use your own words to express it. Little credit (out of the remaining 15 marks) can be given to answers, which only copy words or phrases from the passage.


1 Explain in your own words why “an undesigned world” is considered an unethical world (line 15). [2]

Mankind has the ability to
improve humanity.

A failure to exercise that ability /  Refusing to employ techniques to alleviate pain / misery is unethical.

…a situation that is avoidable / preventable.


GP Passage Text
But the very existence of an ethical world depends on the human capacity for conscious design (lines 11-12)

By restraining research opponents are helping to prevent the development of new medical treatments that draw upon
these techniques and hence allowing many people to suffer.

…unnecessarily (lines 17-19)


2. Suggest two ways in which the use of genetic research might lead to concerns about ‘individual rights’ (line 23) (2)

-the loss of privacy may result if we are forced to surrender our personal genetic information to companies.

-insurance companies may discriminate against individuals who carry certain genes that cause the latter to be predisposed to certain diseases.

-destruction of the embryo to extract stem cells is an infringement of the right to life.


The prospect of widespread genetic research… raises issues about individual rights.


3. From paragraph 6, what are the conditions for rational debate of issues concerning genetic engineering? UYOWAFAP. (1)

We should not assume that there is an unavoidable conflict between science and morality.
science is morally wrong.

And that we require moral restrictions to be applied to scientific progress.


Issues such as these cannot however be rationally debated if we begin with the presumption of an inevitable clash between science and ethics

…and of the need for ethical restraints on scientific advances.


Questions on Passage 2 (Francis Fukuyama)

4. From paragraph 1, in what way is the aim of transhumanists ‘much higher’ than that of civil rights campaigners, feminists or gay rights activists’ (lines 2-3)? UYOWAFAP. [2]

[Focus: Contrast in groups]
Whilst the latter’s goals are to bring freedom and establish rights for only specific groups of people / minority groups.

Transhumanists desire to free all of humanity.

Its crusaders aim much higher than civil rights campaigners, feminists, or gay rights advocates.

They want nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological constraints.


[Focus: Contrast in the nature of the ‘defect’]
Whilst the latter’s goals are to effect a change in the social structure/ social construct,

Transhumanists want to free humans from their genetic make-up / limitations.


5. From your reading of paragraph 2, explain what ‘intellectual fringe’ (line 10) implies about transhumanists. UYOW. [1]


This implies that they are not widely accepted by society /not accepted by the mainstream / considered as radical / far-fetched / idealistic / unrealistic.


It is tempting to dismiss transhumanists as some sort of odd cult, nothing more than science fiction taken too seriously. The plans of some transhumanists to freeze themselves cryogenically in hopes of being revived in a future age seem only to confirm the movement’s place on the intellectual fringe.


6 What is the author’s argument against dismissing transhumanists as some sort of odd cult (line 7)? UYOWAFAP. (2)


[Focus: Not an odd cult because there is basis for their goals; similarity in goals]
He argues that the goals of transhumanists actually underlie / aligned with that of research in medical science today.


[Focus: Capability in achieving the goals]
In that current medical technologies are also capable of improving humanity’s biological make-up.


Transhumanism of a sort is implicit in much of the research agenda of contemporary biomedicine. (line 13-14)

The new procedures and technologies emerging from research laboratories and hospitals… can as easily be used to”enhance” the species as to ameliorate illness. (line 14-17)


8. Explain what the author means by ‘to deface humanity with their genetic bulldozers’ (l.53) (2)

He means that we will alter our genes on such an immense scale

that we will no longer be recognizably human.


If we do not develop it soon, we may unwittingly invite the transhumanists to deface humanity with their genetic
bulldozers (line 53)


Questions on Passages 1 and 2

9. Explain how the authors’ views on nature are similar [2]

Nature, it so happens, is a bad designer because it is a blind designer (line 4)

humans must wrest their biological destiny from evolution’s blind process of random variation and adaptation and move to the next stage as a species. (l4)

Both authors feel that Nature determines our biological and psychological traits

In an arbitrary/ indiscriminate / flawed way.



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Genetic Engineering & Humanity:

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passage Texts:
How to stop worrying and learn to love playing God by Kenan Malik
Transhumanism: The World’s Most Dangerous Idea? by Francis Fukuyama



Q10. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)

Word1 Mark 1/2 Mark
undermine (1.2)

weaken, erode, degrade, diminish in value, devalue, lower
give less importance



dystopian (1.3)nightmarish, highly pessimistic, grim, bleak

frightening, pessimistic, dire, dismal

important, essential


repugnant (in 17)grotesque, vile, repulsive, revolting, loathsome, disgusting, abominable, offensive

No mark: wrong, distasteful,  unthinkable, objectionable


crusaders (2.2)

proponents, supporters, champions, activists, people who light
for a cause / belief


followers, fighters


ameliorate (2.17)

alleviate, improve, ease, reduce, cure (based on context), remedy, make better


No mark: eradicate, eliminate, prevent


Reminder: Do not try to give a list (string of answers). Credit is most often be awarded to the first word, and the rest are disregarded.


Q7. Summary Question (SMQ) (8 marks)

Using material from paragraphs 4-6 (lines 18-47), summarise what the author has to say about the allure and dangers of biotechnology.
Write your summary in no more than 130 words. UYOWAFAP. [8]


Lifted from the GP Text
AIYOW / Re-Expressions

The Allure of Biotechnology

-The human race, after all, is a pretty sorry mess our stubborn diseases, physical limitations, and short lives (l. 19-20)

Throw in humanity’s jealousies, violence, and constant anxieties (l.21)

If it were technologically possible. why wouldn’t we want to transcend our current species? (L 22-23)

…and the transhumanist project begins to look downright reasonable (l 21-22)

The seeming reasonableness of the project (l.23)

…when considered in small increments, is part of its danger (l.23-24)


[existence of human flaws]
Humans have plenty of physical

emotional and psychological shortcomings.

Biotechnology enables us to rectify these flaws.

Bio-engineering thus appears to be a sensible / palatable / sound solution.

[Small increments)
especially if our pursuit is gradual / not radical / not revolutionary


The Dangers of Biotechnology

-…intellectual or moral threat they represent is not always easy to identify (l19)

…we will nibble at biotechnology’s tempting offerings without realising that they come at a frightful moral cost. (L. 24-25)

the first victim of transhumanism might be equality. (L26)

Underlying the idea of the equality of rights is the belief that we all possess a human essence that dwarfs manifest differences (l.26-27)

…this essence and the view that individuals therefore have inherent
value, is at the heart of political liberalism (l.28-29)

If we start transforming ourselves into something superior, what rights will these enhanced creatures claim… (L30-31)

…and what rights will they possess when compared to those left behind (l 31)

…can anyone afford not to follow (l32)

the implications for citizens of the world’s poorest countries – for whom
biotechnology’s marvels likely will be out of reach (l.33-34)

Our good characteristics are intimately connected to our bad ones. (L.40-41)

Modifying any one of our key characteristics inevitably entails
modifying a complex, interlinked package of traits and we will never be
able to anticipate the ultimate outcome (l. 45-47)


hard to perceive dangers]
It is hard to perceive the dangers that bio-engineering poses.

[frightful moral cost]
We may lose sight of the horrific moral / ethical dilemmas it entails.

Inequality may be a consequence of bio-engineering.

[human essence]
The notion of equality depends on the assumption that all humans have innate similarity

…and biotechnology will erase this similarity.

Genetically-modified beings may
clamour for more rights, thus depriving non-modified beings of certain freedoms.

Biotechnology then becomes
necessity / not a matter of choice.

yet the poor will have limited access to these technologies, thus worsening inequality.

Moreover our flaws and assets are intertwined with one another.

We will not know what will happen / the effects of altering our genes.


Note: Time management is important for success in the summary question!
Reminder: it is a good practice to write down the number of words used.



Q11 Application Question

Malik supports genetic research whereas Fukuyama emphasized its dangers.
With which author are you in greater sympathy? How much would you want to play God?
In your answer develop some of the points made by the authors and give your own views. (8)

“Playing God’ refers to taking on the role of a god or human purposes. Usually the expression is used to invoke a precautionary principle or to suggest that someone should
refrain from a controversial action.

Sample answers to this AQ of the GP Comprehension Paper:

Passage 1 (Kenan Malik):
Malik argues that the limitations of nature and the evolutionary process justify genetic research. He concedes that genetic research has implications on society and humanity but argues for a human-centred morality. Ultimately we must use our ability for conscious design to alleviate suffering.

Passage 2 (Francis Fukuyama):
Fukuyama draws attention to the social and political implications of the increasing use of technology to transform human capacities. His objection is that the defense of equal legal and political rights is incompatible with embracing human enhancement.


With which author are you in greater sympathy?

R1: Take a stand by stating the view the candidate agrees with more. This is done by contrasting the arguments of both authors, indicating the one he agrees more with and the weaknesses of the one he is less in agreement with.

How much would you want to ‘play God?
R2: Discuss the extent that the candidate would play God i.e. extent to which he would advocate proceeding with genetic research. Personalisation of the issue is possible.
To achieve coherence, candidate should show the evaluation made earlier [R1] leads to the conclusion on the extent to which he would play God’.

In your answer, develop some of the points made by the authors, and give your own views.
R3: Discuss arguments from BOTH passages that are in support of the positions taken in R1/ R2.

R4: Support these arguments with candidate’s own reasons and examples.

Candidate may refer to research and applications of genetic research such as gene therapy cloning (DNA, reproductive, therapeutic), stem cell research, designer babies, organ farming, genetic screening & profiling regulatory frameworks, etc.

Candidate should display understanding of the arguments presented in both passages.

Candidate should integrate his explanations within the structure of his response. They should form a part of the development in the candidate’s arguments.

Candidate should assess the merits and weaknesses of the arguments in both articles.

Candidate should include his response to these arguments, and give reasons for his response.

Part I: With which author are you in greater sympathy

Part II: How much would you want to ‘play God?

Absolutely. I would advocate genetic research and its uses to be allowed on demand with no legislative action


. Conditional agreements e.g.
– I would advocate genetic research and its uses to be allowed with governmental

– I would advocate genetic research for therapeutic purposes but not for reproductive


· Not at all. I would advocate a total ban on all genetic research.


Our GP Teachers will share the actual Exam Marking Criteria for Paper 2’s AQ, during the lessons.


Mark Range 7-8m

Grade Descriptor
Systematic reference to the requirements of the question, with evidence of a balanced treatment.

Explanation includes good elaboration, insight and interpretation, also Includes reference to own examples and experiences.

Evaluation is sensible, well supported and developed to logical conclusions.

High degree of coherence and organisation indicated between sentences and paragraphs


Comments from Tutor for General Paper :
-If examples from own country is not given, only a maximum of 5 marks.

-remember to state your country and include reference to her in your application responses.


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