Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering
The engineering of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is entirely new, yet genetics, as
a field of science, has fascinated mankind for over 2,000 years. Man has always
tried to bend nature around his will through selective breeding and other forms
of practical genetics. Today, scientists have a greater understanding of
genetics and its role in living organisms. Unfortunately, some people are
trying to stop further studies in genetics, but the research being conducted
today will serve to better mankind tomorrow. Among many benefits of genetic
engineering are the several cures being developed for presently incurable
diseases. Genetics has also opened the door way to biological solutions for
world problems, as well as aid for body malfunctions. Genetic engineering is a
fundamental tool for leading the world of medicine into the future; therefore,
it is crucial to continue research in this field.


Today’s research in genetic engineering is bringing about new methods for curing
and treating major medical illnesses. The Human Genome Project has allowed
geneticists to map the genes of human beings. This project is far from complete,
as the DNA sequence of humans is extremely long, yet it will eventually show
geneticists which genes are responsible for certain inherited diseases.

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Identified genes could be repaired, resulting in the irradiation of inherited
diseases, such as cancer. Just last year, the locations of genes for several
diseases were confirmed and may soon be correctable. Secondly, research in
genetics has brought about a new medical field, genetic counseling. Couples
planning to have children can visit a genetic counselor and identify what
medical difficulties their child may have. With continued research in genetics,
couples will have the opportunity to become aware of a greater number of
medical conditions that may affect their child and can make the proper
adjustments needed in advance. Lastly, and perhaps the most important
advancement in the curing and treating of illnesses, geneticists are developing
a new method for removing viruses from human bodiesDNA scissors. This new
method works in a similar way that antibiotics does. When antibodies enter our
internal system they attack a specific type of enemy cell or virus and destroy
it. Likewise, DNA scissors enter the body and attack a specific type of enemy
virus or cell. DNA scissors are much more effective than conventional
antibiotics because they enter the enemy cell and unravel their DNA. With
dysfunctional DNA, a cell is a pile of lipids and proteins; cancerous tumors
will turn to harmless dumps of organic material, that can be filtered out by
the body. DNA scissors will affect things that antibiotics cannot, like AIDS.

(Not even AIDS can function without DNA). One day the only thing that will stand
between medical diseases and their cure will be the analysis of their DNA.


Genetics now offers a new way to solve the general problems of the world. First,
genetic research makes it possible for food to be grown safer, better, and
faster, without doing any damage to the environment. With today’s knowledge of
genetic engineering, several food companies are investigating possibilities of
making more food in less time. Through a process know as gene therapy,
geneticists have the ability to modify parts of genetic material in organisms.

Geneticists can add attributes to crops, like tomatoes, that would make them
resistant to insects. With such features, dangerous chemicals like DDT that harm
the environment, plants, animals, and humans would not be needed. Other
enhancements would include prolonged life spans for food products after
harvesting. For example, tomatoes have been engineered to last longer so they
do not have to be harvested early. Thus, it is unnecessary to spray chemicals on
them to prematurely change their color. While the US has not yet approved the
new crops, several countries have and are making great profits off them. Finally,
through a proccess known as gene splicing, geneticists are able to cross
different organisms and therefore breed beneficial life forms. The Supreme Court
ruled that scientists can patent newly created life forms, so several companies
have invested in genetic research. General Electric provided the funding for a
team of geneticists to create a new life form; the result was oil eating
bacteria. The bacteria consume oil and are of no threat to the environment, so
far. A major use for the bacteria is to clean shores after an oil spill. It is
impossible to clean every drop of oil on the shoreline, so the bacteria are
released to remove any traces of oil tediously and perfectly. General Electric
is in the process of obtaining , or already has obtained a patent for the
bacteria. It is quite clear that genetics will have an active role in our quest
for solving world problems.


Genetic Engineering makes it possible to treat and correct bodily malfunctions.

First, the use of genetics allows us to produce supplements for those who have
chemical deficiencies. The most well-known example of such a supplement is
insulin. In the 1800’s, diabetics received insulin from sheep, yet as it can be
imagined, it took a great deal of sheep to sustain one person. After the
discovery of DNA, geneticists used gene splicing to develop a bacterium to
produce insulin. By cloning the human gene for insulin and inserting it into
bacteria known as E. coli, the scientists created bacteria that produced insulin
and when the bacteria reproduced, they reproduced the human gene as well. Next,
genetic engineering will make it possible to create vital organs for transplants.

A major medical difficulty today is the lack of organ donors. Waiting lists are
always getting longer, and people are losing their lives as a result. In the
future, geneticists would be able to clone pieces of organs and, then, make
organs for surgeries involving transplants. Geneticists may even be able to
clone cells from damaged organs and then engineer exact duplicates. Genetics
will definitely have a large impact on correcting of malfunctions in the human
body.


Without doubt, genetic engineering has already helped make human life easier and
will continue to do so in the future, provided that research on genetic
engineering continues. All advancements in science have led to positive and
negative results, yet, the rewards of genetics greatly outweigh the
disadvantages. Mankind is entering a new era in medicinegenetic engineeringone
that has received criticism. As the field of genetics inevitably becomes
integrated with medical practice, people may continue to protest against what
they believe genetic engineering will unleash on our society. Rather than
allowing fear and ignorance to derail one of the most humane efforts underway,
scientists and the society must find bridges of communication and understanding,
through education, to promote the benefits of genetic engineering.

Genetic Engineering

When we envision our future, we usually imagine a future free of disease and physical sickness, but have you ever wondered how a disease-free society will be accomplished? In the twenty-first century our world will be a very different place because of genetic manipulation and engineering. There are many pros and cons to this debate, but it is undeniable that the effects from the new revelations in the field of genetics are far-reaching and deep impacting. Genetic engineering is a radical new technology, one that breaks down fundamental barriers, not only between species, but also between humans, animals, and plants. By combining the genes of dissimilar and unrelated species, permanently altering their genetic codes, novel organisms are created that will pass the genetic changes onto their offspring through heredity. Scientists are now snipping, inserting, recombining, rearranging, editing, and programming genetic material. Animal genes and even human genes are being inserted into plants or animals creating unimagined transgenic life forms. For the first time in history, human beings are becoming the architects of life. Bio-engineers will be creating tens of thousands of novel organisms over the next few years. The prospect is frightening.

First we must see that genetic engineering offers many potential benefits to the twenty-first century in the two fields of agriculture and medicine. In agriculture, we can now grow plants and animals faster, stronger, and easier. We can alter plants to have them grow ten times larger than their original size, and we can create animals without parents by cloning (Scott). In medicine, genetic engineering has revolutionized the field into something completely new. We now produce cures that are specifically tailored to diseases, which have lengthened the average life span by almost ten years, detect and eliminate birth defects in babies, and have people that are healthier now than at any time in history (Epstein).

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But with that almost unlimited power, there is a high price for the twenty-first century to pay. With each bonus we as a society receive from genetics, we also created genetically altered super-diseases. Genes from bacteria, viruses, and insects, which have never been part of the human diet, are being spliced into our food. Genetic engineering is not an exact science. Scientists can unintentionally create changes in the genetic make-up of plants that result in new, unknown proteins with unknown results (“Health”). Mixing the genetic properties of unrelated species carries with is such risks as creating life-threatening allergic reactions in humans, or more resilient crop pests, weeds, and bacteria (Hawaleshka).

Uses of these genetically engineered products are just now being done and allowed into our shared food supply, and now is the time to try to stop it. It is always easier to stop something when it is first starting than after it becomes established in our mindsets and our economic system. Now is the time when we are conscious enough to be horrified. We will get more and more indoctrinated to the genetic engineering ideas until we cannot even remember what it was like to trust God and have caution about tinkering with such things. I think we should use our horror well, and now. This issue gets much harder if we wait until it is established, if we accept their framing that it is a “fait accomplished, and you better get used to it”. That disempowers the very principle of democracy better than any foreign country ever has, and leaves us to be victims nibbling at the edges of corporate policy, instead of sovereign citizens declaring our vision of the world we want our shared future to be.

Some see genetic engineering as just more tinkering, but we are crossing species barriers for the first time, and we really do not know what that looks like, even if we think the risk is small. Just the genetic engineering process itself brings risk, no matter the potential benefit or desired outcome. For instance I know that some genetic engineered crops include an antibiotic resistant gene. Does one need a science degree to recognize that this is not an intelligent thing to introduce into our population? Already, doctors struggle with the increasing antibiotic resistance that is making deadly again bacteria that were once killed by antibiotics. Do we want to assist this? Same thing with putting toxins in plants. There are risks in making plants more herbicide tolerant. It will result in increased use of herbicides, and thus increase harm to health and the environment, and increased resistance. Plus the economic, social, and sociological cost of having to return the seeds to the corporation, cutting us off from our own birthright of saving seeds, of having a direct relationship to the natural process, and instead having that replaced by corporate products and corporate objectives, and much more money spent along the way.

If you think these corporations can be trusted with our genetic heritage, our economic system, our farming social structures, and our food supply, and they will think only of the community’s best interest, I think you are nave. We must recognize their interests are not always what is best for the community. They want to charge for products, and a high market share. I feel there are fundamental flaws with the genetic engineering approach, and am highly skeptical of those who would be driving its direction. I affirm our rights as individuals and as a community to make a choice about the direction we take, for if we do not have that, then why put up with all the messy aspects of having free will? So, as we approach the twenty-first century, we go into the realm of the unknown. However, it is assuredly a future that will be blessed and cursed with genetic engineering, and one that will look back at the nineteenth century and remember the development that influenced it the most as genetic engineering.
Bibliography:
Works Cited
Epstein, Dr. Ron. “Why You Should Be Concerned About Genetically Engineered Food.” 2 Nov. 1999 .

Hawaleshka, Danylo. “Unnatural Selection.” Maclean’s 20 Jan. 1997. 20 Oct. 1999
.

“Health, Environmental, and Ethical Concerns of Genetically Engineered Foods.” 11 July 1999. 26 Oct. 1999 .

Scott, Mary. “Food Focus: Genetically Engineered Foods – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.” Natural Foods Merchandises Nov.1997. 26 Oct. 1999 .

Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering “Genetic engineering is a fact of life.” This statement is undoubtedly true. But what exactly is genetic engineering and why does it affect us? Firstly, genetic engineering is the manipulation of an organisms’ genes and this is made possible by something called DNA. DNA is a hereditary substance that contains a compete set of information which determines the structure and function of a living organism. It is precisely the agent that is manipulated in the process of genetic engineering. This protein system (DNA) is basically a long string of “code words”, arranged in an orderly fashion, which contains the blue prints to creating all of the proteins in the body.

It is also the single most important factor in gene manipulation. In the process of genetic engineering, one or more genes of an organism is taken out of the DNA and inserted into the DNA of another organism. This process can take place in any living creature from bacterium to human beings. So why is Genetic engineering such a controversial topic? To many it seems just another technological development that was bound to surface with time, however it was not until now that any form of technology held the power to create, change and formulate life. Those in favor of genetic engineering argue that since genetic codes are the determining factor in appearance, personality, health, and aging, the development of genetic engineering will certainly lead to the control and improvement of our health and quality of life.

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We would also be able to improve the genes of animals and plants so that these organisms can better serve the human race. Pretty convincing right? In theory, genetic engineering seems like the answer to the worlds’ problems. In the medical field, the uses of this technology appear endless. For one, through the process of gene manipulation, necessary drugs like insulin can be created and grown in large quantities, in a very inexpensive manner. Secondly, pure versions of certain treatment drugs can reduce the risk of other complications.

This is the case with factor VIII. factor VIII is a blood clotting agent missing in people who suffer from hemophilia and it has been created through genetic engineering. The advantage of the bioengineered form is that it is pure which would eliminated the possibility of viral infection. This is important because almost all people who received factor VIII before 1985 contracted the Aids virus. Genetic engineering can also open the door for the elimination of genetic diseases ranging from cancer to blood, liver, and lung disorders through the use of gene therapy. Other medical uses of the technology could include boosting our immune systems, making us less susceptible to sickness, and even extending our life span to over 100 years. According to the supporters of genetic engineering, the medical field is not the only place where genetic engineering can have a positive impact.

In agriculture, genetics can also be extremely beneficial. In theory, with the help of genetic engineering we would be able to enhance crops and make them resistent to disease and pestilence, which kills a large portion of crops annually. There is also the possibility of injecting plants with bioengineered viruses that would kill of bugs and other creatures that attack plants, reducing or even eliminating the need for environmentally unsafe pesticides and chemicals. Another use of the gene manipulation of crops would increase crop yield, which would in turn lower prices and feed more hungry children. Animals can also be affected by this cutting edge technology. With genetics and gene therapy, we would be able to make animals have organs that would be quite similar to those of humans, thus making them transplantable.

The gene of animals could also be manipulated to breed healthier and meatier animals. Also supporters of genetic engineering believe that the process can put an end to the fear of extinction because we would be able to clone animals which human pollution and deforestation have caused to disappear. The possibilities are endless, it would even be possible to breed faster growing trees, which would in turn allow for the repopulating of the rains forests. Lastly, genetic engineering would affect the evolution of the most precious species created, Homo Sapiens. Using genetic engineering we would be able to enhance the human genome.

This for most is the scariest possibility stemming from genetic engineering. After the cloning of Dolly the sheep, scientists had the world wondering..what’s next? It is quite reasonable to say that most would agree that cloning human beings just for the sake of it would be silly, creating only negative repercussions such as overpopulation. However, genetic engineering leaves the door open for the enhancement of our species. In theory we would be able to increase intelligence therefore reducing senseless acts which are one of the major causes of crime and violence. We would even be able to increase our metabolisms and never worry about being overweight again, and people would be able to alter their appearances .

In general, using genetic engineering within the human realm seems like it is the answer to gaining the enhancements that would allow us to live longer, happier and healthier lives. For as many supporters as there are in favor of genetic engineering, there are just as many people totally opposed to idea. You may ask yourself, why? After hearing the preceding advantages of the new technology, it seems as if we should be praising its benefits. However, there is another side of the story. Genetic engineering represents the ability of humans to take into their own hands the ability to initiate certain human environmental occurrences that previously only nature could be held responsible for.

Gene manipulation poses many ethical and social concerns along with serious challenges to the environment, human health, animal welfare, and the future of agriculture. The primary concern of those in opposition to genetic engineering is that there are no guarantees. Genetic engineering represents a whole new world of questionable outcomes and possibly dangerous results. Genetically engineered plants pose a series of problems. For one, if pests become resistent to genetically engineered crops, won’t we have to use an increased amount of stronger pesticides to address the problem? And wouldn’t this be detrimental to the environment? Many are also fooled by the idea that genetically altered crops will yield more and therefore feed the poor and hungry, yet another misconception according to opponents of genetic engineering. The process of gene manipulation is unlikely to take place in third world countries, it is mostly a factor in the agricultural economy of large, wealthy nations such as the United States, Japan and Western Europe.

So the surplus of food is not serving the purpose of feeding the hungry. Genetic altering of certain plants that we consume within our daily diet may also lead to severe and even fatal reactions. The process is so new that it is virtually impossible to predict the effects it will have. Genetic Engneerng could also spell big trouble for traditional agriculture. If agriculture were to be based entirely on genetic engineering, this would signal the end of farming as this nation has known it from centuries ago. Another fact most people are unaware of is that genetically altered foods have already hit the markets and may even be in their local supermarkets.

You would probably never know if you were eating altered corn or not, but what if you were a vegetarian? Some genetic alteration of plants/crops utilizes genetic material from animals. Don’t you have a right ot know? Genetic engineering, is also ued in a process called eugenics. Through this process, as it is being used now, human fetuses that have been identified as having hereditary disorders are being aborted. Eventually however, when geneticists can map out the entire human genome, opponents of genetic engineering fear that babies will be aborted because they have non-life threatening illnesses such as myopia or even worse, they may be aborted fro such tricial things as cosmetic imperfections or for possessing a gene which predisposes them to homosexuality. In labs all around the country genomes are being created for sole experimental use. The ones with deformities live short, yet painful lives some blind or even crippled.

So we are producing these creatures who have no other value to us than to say they were products of genetic engineering? What’s next, argue those opposing the process, will we be throwing babies away because they are rejected products of a genetic engineering project gone wrong? In all actuality, it seems as if we are putting a great deal of power into human hands. And what gives an individual the right to make decisions that will affect generations to come? Personally, while I feel that they are many benefits to be reaped from the technology of genetic engineering, there is one thing that scars me. This technology will be put in the hands of humans just like you and I, all of which are capable of making mistakes. Also, humans can be as irrational and dazed as they can be rational and brilliant. With all the possibilities that genetic engineering has to offer, it seems that if it found it’s way into the wrong hands it could do much more harm than good. Each individual must decide for him or herself their stance on this issue, but hopefully you have come to understand that there is much more than meets the eye when current technological consequences are involved.

Science.

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