Arguably, technology has changed various aspects of human activities. As a matter of fact, many beliefs that technologies have brought a lot of tremendous developments that are more applicable and influential to human beings. Cloning and genetic engineering are among the many developments issues brought by technology. Many view that the development of genetic engineering and cloning holds the potential to solve several humankind problems. On the other hand, the development of these aspects is seen as the potential that is building and developing unchecked dangers. Hence, these views present both the positive and negative impacts of genetic engineering as a method of improving the circumstance of humans. Generally, cloning and genetic engineering opens an entire realm of issues related to biology, allowing scientists to be in a position of helping human beings, but these issues are not without negative impacts on humans.
Cloning and genetic engineering have improved and solved various human circumstances n the world today. In fact, cloning finds many of its application in amplification of DNA, genetic fingerprinting, as well as modification of genetic makeup in humans. As a matter of fact, cloning through genetic makeup leads to introduction of positive traits in humans, and the elimination of undesirable traits. Perhaps, cloning and genetic engineering has improved and solved the life of humans through human organs development; hence, the life’s of people has been made safer and longer. One of the arguments for cloning is that it helps in organ replacement. Whereby, vital human organs in the human body are cloned to serve as backup operating system in the body of human beings. The presence of cloning is one of the lifesavers, for example, when some of the body organs such as heart and kidney fails, it can be replaced through cloning of the body organ (Nicholl, 2008).
Genetic engineering has tremendous use in production of food. In the third world countries many people are suffering from malnutrition and hunger; hence, genetic engineering has come to solve these human problems. Undeniably, the world population is tremendously expanding meaning food supply will automatically reduce due to high demand. GMO (Genetically modified food) is a solution to this human problem. This is because genetically modified food has the power to resist herbicides and pesticides, thereby leading to a reduction of pollutant chemicals in the environment. In addition, GMO manufacture has the power to make their pesticides that send off insects. The end results of these characteristics are the increment of yield, which automatically reduces starvation in the globe (Stanley, 2000).
Through genetic engineering, gene therapy has been made possible making it a convenient method to eliminate human problems. Gene therapy is used in treatment of genetic diseases affecting humans; this is carried out through genetic modification. Proponents assert that gene therapy has helped humans because it is cost effective and reasonable method of treating various gene diseases. The process does not require to be administered continuously meaning it is remarkably efficient. As a matter of fact, genetic engineering methods eliminate human suffering due to fatal, painful and debilitating genetic diseases. Germ-line gene therapy is also possible because of genetic engineering; this refers to the replacement or removal of faulty genes. Perhaps, it eliminates costly and destructive disease from the populace. Hence, proponents believe it is the best method to curb and eliminate human suffering (Russell, 2012).
In addition, cloning and genetic engineering has led to rejuvenation in human life. Advocates of cloning assert that this type of technology help in getting rid of all physical body issues that come up with age. For example, it eliminates wriggles among the old people leading to emotional and psychological. Moreover, humans who have burns and injuries in their body are the greatest beneficiaries of cloning. They have a chance of receiving skin tissues that eliminate the burns. In some cases, human beings are infertile and cannot have children. Cloning is one of the solutions to most infertile couples (Nicholl, 2008). Couples undergo emotional and physical pain when undergoing infertility treatment; cloning eliminates these problems, putting them in a situation to have children that are genetically theirs. Cloning is also helpful in the genetic research, this is because the technology behind cloning enables researchers to understand the effects of genes that humans have, and composition of genes. In a wider perspective, cloning helps in eliminating genetic diseases.
On the other hand, scholars and scientists assert that cloning comes with some negative impacts to humans. In fact, to many, cloning interferes with the natural process of creating children. The modification that takes place in humans may lead to the creation of smarter humans, which become problematic to those who are not products of cloning. Cloning does not give room to natural gene diversity to take place; cloning is only there to produce identical genes, meaning it hinders the process of gene replication, thus impeding diversity of genes. Hence, the beauty that lies on diversity and ability to adapt is eliminated. Family structure is important to the life of humans but cloning totally destabilizes the structure of family. Cloning is there to invite malpractices among medical practitioners and in society (Stanley, 2000). Hence, based on human ethic cloning takes away the ethical issues that are crucial to human, it devalues humans and the entirely undermines the importance of human existence.
Genetic engineering influences the life of humans negatively. The use of genetically modified food is believed to react with the human body in negative ways. In fact, the side effects are unknown, but it has been demonstrated has a factor that increases the risk to human health by causing cancer and other human diseases. Furthermore, genetic engineering corrupts the supply of food in the globe (Russell, 2012). Many companies have utilized the production of food using technology, whereby they focus on profits at the expense of human health. Genetic engineering will create organisms that human beings will not have defense against, leading to evolution chaos.
Conclusively, technology in the globe is a double-edged-sword, which needs to be taken care of responsibly. Cloning and genetic engineering are outcomes of technology; hence, it has both positive and negative impacts on the issues of humans. Proponents in support of cloning and genetic engineering assert that it is one method that holds the potential to eradicate and solve humankind problems. On a positive note, genetic engineering and cloning improve human circumstances by reducing food shortage, treating diseases, reducing costs, solving infertility problems, curbs human suffering, increases lifespan, as well as eliminating physical damages such as burns and wrinkles. These changes cause by cloning and genetic engineering has changed human live positively. On the other hand…
Over the last century, the field of genetics and biotechnology has greatly developed because of the better understanding of the gene. Because of the improvement of technology, scientists have already gone up until the manipulation of the genome (complete set of genes) of organisms. This process is called genetic engineering. In this article, we will explore 13 important genetic engineering pros and cons.
Table of Contents
What Is Actually Genetic Engineering?
The “sharing” of genetic material among living organisms is known to be a natural event. This phenomenon is known to be very evident among bacteria, hence they are called “nature’s own genetic engineer”. Such phenomenon is the inspiration of scientists in this endeavor.
In literature, there are in fact many synonyms of the term “genetic engineering”: genetic modification, genome manipulation, genetic enhancement, and many more. However, this term shall not be confused with cloning because genetic engineering involves the production of new set of genes while the latter only involves the production of the same copies of genes in the organism.
Genetic engineering is the process of manipulating an organism’s genome using biotechnology and the products of it are either referred to as “genetically modified” or “transgenic” organisms. Check out the disadvantages of genetically modified foods here.
How Does Genetic Engineering Work?
Basically, genetic engineering is done by inserting a “gene of interest” from sources like bacteria, viruses, plants, and animals into the “target” organism. As a result, the organism with the inserted “gene of interest” is now able to carry out the new trait or characteristic.
This technology grants us the ability to overcome barriers, exchange genes among organisms, and produce new organisms with “favorable traits”.
For a more detailed explanation of the process, check out this video below:
Now we will dive into the pros and cons of Genetic Engineering now.
Pros of Genetic Engineering / Advantages of Genetic Engineering
Supporters of genetic engineering believe that genetic engineering is indeed safe and is still comparable to the traditional process of breeding in plants and animals. Advocates of genetic engineering support the technology primarily because of the following reasons:
1. Production of nutrient-rich foodsA variety of food crops and products have already been modified in order to provide better nutrition for consumers. For instance, did you know that you can already have your daily requirement of vitamin A by eating rice alone? By inserting a gene that encodes for vitamin A to the gene of regular rice, scientists were able to create a new breed of rice plants called “Golden Rice“. Such discovery is very helpful to the diet of populations that consume rice.
2. Increased resistance of plants to rotting and pestsA common problem in farming and food production is the rapid infestation and rotting of crops. Using genetic engineering, scientists have already found a solution: by creating rot and pest resistant crops. By genetically engineering the gene that encodes for rotting in plants, the ability of a certain fruit to resist rotting is enhanced. In the case of pest resistance, scientists insert genes for toxin production into plants, thus resulting to them deterring their insect pests.
3. Increased Meat ProductionAnimals have already been modified in order to increase meat production. One example of a genetically modified animal for such purpose is the Belgian blue cattle which originated from Belgium, as the name suggests. Unlike regular cattle, this genetically engineered cattle has an impressive muscling known as “double muscling”. By inserting a gene that inhibits the production of myostatin (the protein that suppresses muscle growth), scientists were able to produce a new breed of cattle that has humongous body size ideal for meat production.
4. Production of novel drugs and vaccinesIn medicine, genetic engineering is used in order to produce various drugs like human growth hormone, insulin, and vaccines. Basically, a vaccine is a synthetic substance given in order to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against a certain disease. To do this, inactive forms of viruses or the toxins they produced are injected into the person being immunized.
5. Development of new and favorable charactersThrough the course of time, genetic engineering is no longer limited to plants and animals alone. Surprisingly, a study published in the journal Nature showed that genetic engineering in humans is already being performed in a process called gene doping. Unlike the known process of “doping”, which involves the use of performance enhancing drugs like growth hormones and steroids, gene doping involves the non-therapeutic use of genes and cells to improve athletic performance.
6. Creation of humans with desirable featuresIn addition to the above mentioned, did you know that using genetic engineering, you can already choose the type of baby you want to have? The term “designer baby” refers to a baby whose genetic makeup has been chosen in order to ensure that a certain gene will be present or to remove a certain unwanted trait. Although possible, this genetic technology has not yet been started because of continuing ethical debates.
Cons of Genetic Engineering / Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering
On the other hand, there are several types of potential health effects that could arise from the insertion of a novel gene into an organism. Critics disagree with the methods of genetic engineering because of:
1. The fear for unintended selection and any unwanted transfer of genesIn short, there is no 100% chances that the genes inserted will be expressed. In fact, they can even end up in unexpected places. Such changes can contribute to alteration in the organism’s growth, metabolism and response.
2. Health issues like allergic reactionsWhen GM crops were first introduced to the market, the possibility that they might cause allergies became the prime concern of consumers. Apparently, there have already been several studies which suggest that the genetic engineering may have increased natural allergens in crops. As alluded to earlier, the transfer of genes across organisms is prone to high probabilities of failures. For instance, the supposedly “gene of interest” is not transferred; instead, another gene for producing allergen is.
3. Development of antibiotic resistance of disease causing organismsAnother damaging effect of producing GM organisms is a condition called “antibiotic resistance“. In this phenomenon, the supposedly target organisms of antibiotics change in a way that they eventually become resistant to the drug. As a result, they will continue to survive, causing greater harm.
4. Loss of biodiversityAccording to a study published in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, one major problem regarding the rise of GM organisms is that they can cause a reduction in the biodiversity (the difference in the traits of organisms) of plants and animals in the environment. This means that the DNA in the environment will be more similar between individuals. So what? Loss biodiversity in the environment means lower chances of adaptation and survival of organisms to changing environment.
5. The fear for the rise of “invasive species”In relation to the above point, the increase in the production of GM crops and animals may lead to the rise of invasive species. Because GM organisms are often better adapted to the environments that they were modified for, they out-compete naturally occurring plants and animals. In science, such organisms are termed as “invasive species”. They are basically organisms with uncontrollable growth of populations up to a degree that already harms organisms and the environment.
6. Economic consequences
Because of the technology used to create genetically modified crops and animals, private companies that produce them do not share their products at a reasonable cost with the public.
7. Social and Ethical ConcernsFor critics, genetic engineering has no resemblance to the natural process of breeding. This is because in the process, a different gene is forced to combine to the genes of an organism.
In addition, they believe that the process is somewhat disrupting the natural way and complexity of life. In addition to this, critics fear the misuse and abuse of biotechnology.
Genetic Engineering – Good, Bad & Ugly – An Infographics
Indeed, genetic engineering will always have two opposite sides. While the possibilities of what science can create are endless, and the harmful effects also are. At present, it is important to know that the real risks and benefits of genetic engineering lie in how science is interpreted and used.
But there’s really no doubt that with the rapid advancements in technology, the creation of GM organisms are also increasing.
What do you think? Are GM organisms slowly becoming the future?
13 Important Genetic Engineering Pros And Cons
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