.. genetic disorders. Biotechnology is widely used in pharmacy to create more efficient and less expensive drugs.
Recombinant DNA technology is used for production of specific enzymes, which enhance the rate of production of particular range of antibodies in the organism (Hanson 67). Antibiotics produced using such technology have very specific effects and cause fewer side effects. Also, using similar methods a range of vaccines can be created.Currently, scientists are working on vaccines for fatal illnesses such as AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, flu, and even some forms of cancer. Shrof expects that in the near future vaccines will come in more convenient ways “some will come in the form of mouthwash; others will be swallowed in time-release capsules, avoiding the need for boosters.” (57). Some genetically altered foods that will convey antigens against some disease are expected to be available in about five years (“Miracle Vaccines” 57,67).
Genetic disease could be treated through the use of genetic engineering. Defective genes in an organism cause genetic disorders.If a defective gene could be identified and located in a particular group of cells – it could be replaced with a functional one. The transgenic cells are then planted into the organism, resulting in a cure of the disorder (Jackson and Stich 64,65). Cloning is a relatively new sector of biotechnology, but it promises answers to very important problems related to surgery. Tissues and organs could be cloned for surgical purposes.
If scientists could isolate stem cells, (stem cells have a potential to grow into any kind of tissue or organ) and then direct their development, they would be able to create any kind of a tissue, organ or even a whole part of a body (“On the Horizon” 89).In a way, biotechnology is just like one of its products – for all the positive effects of biotechnology there are some possible side effects. The double-stranded molecule of DNA, originally honored for its intelligibility, in present society portraits a double-sided sword, which could be employed as an agent of death as well as an agent of life (“All for the Good” 91). There are some concerns that genetic engineering could pose some serious danger to earth inhabitants. Nobody knows what ecological hazards could be caused by novel transgenic organisms (“DNA Disasters?” 80).
The opposition of genetic engineering says that – the science is very young and needs a lot more research. The majority of recombinant DNA experiments use E.coli bacteria as a host for production of transgenic proteins.
E. coli could be harmful to human beings and other species. Although the experiments are conducted in secure, contained facilities, there is a chance that some of bacteria could escape the boundaries of such laboratory. Escaped bacteria then could find an environment for replication and could spread at a fast pace. Some species could be infected and transmit the bacteria to others, thus causing global epidemics (Jackson and Stich 99-113).Moreover, genetic engineering enables the scientists to combine genetic materials of unrelated organisms. Such recombinant events across species have never been fond in nature. There is a chance that such hybrid organisms could escape from a laboratory.
The escaped transgenic organisms could eliminate a range of species, and disrupt the natural balance. Not to mention that such organisms could abolish the human kind. However, scientists tend to think that there is a little chance of such happening (Jackson and Stich 127). Hanson says that “the primary objective of genetic engineering is to control the genetic structures of many individual life forms which inhabit this planet, including humans, for their own benefit” (21).
However, some individual scientists may have different goals. Indeed, some scientists may participate in illegal activities in order to achieve large financial rewards. There is a concern that some genetic project information could be sold to a group of terrorists or such and then used for development of biological weapons. Use of biological weapons could wipe out vast portion of specific species in a particular region or even the whole planet. There are some convincing reasons for biotechnology to be carefully regulated. In 1976, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established a recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC).RAC is responsible for creating guidelines governing recombinant DNA experiments.
All the institutions, companies or individuals working in the field of genetics must obey those guidelines. By the end of 1981, after reviewing the record carefully, RAC drew the conclusion that some of its requirements could be loosened up because safety of new technology was established (Hanson 80). Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has very high standards for proof of safety and efficacy. However, FDA has taken a constructive attitude in making the products of biotechnology quickly and safely available to the public.FDA does not require any unnecessary studies and provides the companies with technical assistance while taking the product through the approval system. Today, there are 234 new drugs awaiting approval from FDA (Hanson 82). Innovation cannot exist without a strong patent system. If there were no patent system, the invention of one company could become available to other companies that did not incur high research and development cost.
Without the potential for protecting company’s developments, there would be a little chance to raise enough capital for growth and support of the company during the period while the products go through regulatory approval process. The patent system also contributes to a development of stronger economy by producing more competition.Under patent protection a new company can compete against larger, older and more entrenched companies. This, in turn, eliminates the possibility of monopoly and results in faster development and lower prices of the products (Encarta 99). On one hand, there are some concerns regarding safety of biotechnological experiments. However, over the years biotechnology has proved to be exceptionally safe. On the other hand, there is a strong need for more efficient agriculture and higher achievements in medical field.
Biotechnology has also proved to be extremely productive, and innovative coming up with the answers for the problems mentioned above. In conclusion, if the 20th century was the century of physics, the 21st century should be the century of biology.Bibliography Drlica, Karl.
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