Genetic Engineering Essay Sample

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Genetic engineering has been an controversial topic due to the many sides that it has an impact on. Some say that genetic engineering can aid the environment, since genes could be manipulated in trees to absorb more CO2 to reduce the threat of global warming[1]- while others ( also in some religious beliefs) ) think that the humans should not have the right to manipulate the laws and course of nature. In this essay, I will contrast the overall impact it has brought upon society and come to a conclusion.

The definition of genetic engineering ( also known as genetic modification ) is “the alteration of genetic code by artificial means, which is different compared to from traditional selective breeding” [2]. Genetic engineering as the direct manipulation of DNA by humans outside breeding and mutations has only existed since the 1970s. The key event to modern genetic engineering began in the 1970s when(1972) Paul Berg created the first recombinant DNA molecules, and when (1973) Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen created the first transgenic organism by inserting antibiotic resistance genes into the plasmid of an E. coli bacterium.

Genetic engineering is a complicated procedure which is divided into 7 steps; Isolation the gene, Construction, Gene targeting, Transformation, Selection, Regeneration and Confirmation. The gene to be inserted into the genetically modified organism must be chosen and isolated for identification. After the gene is isolated, the gene is inserted into a bacterial plasmid. At the construction stage, the gene can be modified for better effectiveness, and to control the location and level of gene expression. Then, gene targeting uses homologous recombination to target desired changes to a specific endogenous gene. Next, in the transformation stage, the genes to be inserted are cloned into a binary vector, which when constructed, will naturally insert the genetic material into the plant cells. In the selection stage ( since not all the organism’s cells will be transformed) a selectable marker is used to differentiate transformed from untransformed cells, and a cell that has been successfully transformed will contain the marker gene. In the regeneration process, often only a single cell is transformed with genetic material the organism must be regrown from that single cell. Lastly, in the confirmation stage, further tests are taken to confirm that the gene is expressed and functions correctly. The organism’s offspring are also tested to ensure that the trait can be inherited and that it follows a Mendelian inheritance pattern.

Genetic engineering had had a positive impact on society with its variety of applications. Agriculture and medicine are the two areas which make use of the genetic engineering techniques the most. In gene therapy, genes are used to treat or prevent diseases, effectively replacing the use of drugs or surgery.[3] Gene therapy is a highly promising treatment option, and right now the only thing that is holding it back is the fact that it still has its risks which are yet to be discovered. It’s technique raised controversy from some religious groups and creationists, as they believe that gene therapy considers the alteration of an individual’s genes as corrupting God’s work, which in other words would mean that you’re going against God. The Human Genome Project is an international scientific research project with the goal of identifying 20000-25000 genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint. The project allowed for much deeper understanding in the human body, which creates opportunities to develop and enhance medicines and even discover cures for diseases.

They also spent 5% of their budgets to studying the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) surrounding availability of genetic information, which basically answers the Social Concerns Arising from the New Genetics.[4] Genetic modified foods’s effect on the economy is also notable. Genetic modified foods include crops, vegetables and fruit that have been created using genetic engineering methods. They are more productive and have a larger yield while also offering more nutritional value and better flavor[5], which means it has an advantage over natural foods.The fact that they are more productive means that it is more quantitative compared to natural foods, meaning it would lower the food prices ( for countries that has genetically modified foods), which ( in the long term) would indefinitely balance the wealth spread between the rich and the poor.

As of 2006, 252 million acres of genetically modified crops are planted in 22 countries by 10.3 million farmers, which indicates the influence of genetic engineering.[6] Some have even suggested that genetically modified foods is a possible solution for world hunger ( though this theory is not entirely correct since statistics show that it is the political system which disarrays the distribution of food in the world ).The drawback of Genetic modified foods is that it requires high maintenance and regulation from the government to ensure the safety of the foods. Another main concern is that genetically modified foods has unknown effects on human health[7], since the processing of introducing a gene to plants may cause unexpected results- which means that genetically modified foods are still not completely reliable. Rapid developments of genetic engineering have related genetic engineering to biological warfare, and with the continuous revolution of biotechnology, genetic engineering has allowed researchers to generate even more devastating biowarfare agents than before, which undoubtedly disrupts world peace as countries would always be in tension with other countries.

Genetic engineering is one of the greatest breakthroughs in recent scientific history, elevating society in a whole new level. With genetic engineering, we are able to study the living organisms in a way we had never done.With genetic engineering, we could prevent life threatening and incurable diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and even HIV/AIDS.[8] With genetic engineering, we have genetically modified foods, which are proven to be more nutritious than natural foods. However, counting the aforementioned downsides of genetic engineering ( high cost regulations, unknown/yet to be discovered results from genetically modified foods , religious disagreements and biological warfare), the most frightening scenario is the destructive uses of genetic engineering-which is the expansion biological warfare. In conclusion, since once genetic engineering is used, you cannot halt its development, which is something that we as humans are not ready to be responsible for at this stage.[9]

Bibliography:

-Genetic Engineering: What Is Genetic Engineering?. (n.d.). globalchange.com. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from www.globalchange.com/geneticengin.htm

-Genetic Engineering Advantages & Disadvantages – Biology Online. (n.d.). Life Science Reference – Biology Online. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.biology-online.org/2/13_genetic_engineering.htm

-Ince, J. (n.d.). Assessing the economic impact of genetic engineering – by Jenny Ince – Helium. Helium – Where Knowledge Rules. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.helium.com/items/842310-assessing-the-economic-impact-of-genetic-engineering

-What is gene therapy? – Genetics Home Reference. (n.d.). Genetics Home Reference – Your guide to understanding genetic conditions. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/therapy/genetherapy

-Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues –Genome Research. (n.d.). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/elsi.shtml

-Panse, . (n.d.). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food: A Look at the Pros and Cons of GM Food. Find Health, Education, Science & Technology Articles, Reviews, How-To and Tech Tips At Bright Hub – Apply To Be A Writer Today!. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/23358.aspx

-K, M. (n.d.). Genetically Modified Foods: Advantages and Dangers. Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/genetically-modified-foods-advantages-and-dangers.html

-Baxamusa, B. N. (n.d.). Genetic Engineering in Humans. Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/genetic-engineering-in-humans.html

-7 Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?. (n.d.). ProQuest. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php

[1] Genetic Engineering Advantages & Disadvantages – Biology Online. (n.d.). Life Science Reference – Biology Online. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.biology-online.org/2/13_genetic_engineering.htm

[2] Genetic Engineering: What Is Genetic Engineering?. (n.d.). globalchange.com. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.globalchange.com/geneticengin.htm

[3] What is gene therapy? – Genetics Home Reference. (n.d.). Genetics Home Reference – Your guide to understanding genetic conditions. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/therapy/genetherapy

[4] Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues –Genome Research. (n.d.). Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/elsi.shtml

[5] Panse, . (n.d.). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Food: A Look at the Pros and Cons of GM Food. Find Health, Education, Science & Technology Articles, Reviews, How-To and Tech Tips At Bright Hub – Apply To Be A Writer Today!. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/23358.aspx

[6] -K, M. (n.d.). Genetically Modified Foods: Advantages and Dangers. Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/genetically-modified-foods-advantages-and-dangers.html

[7] Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?. (n.d.). ProQuest. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php

[8] -Baxamusa, B. N. (n.d.). Genetic Engineering in Humans. Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/genetic-engineering-in-humans.html

[9] Effects of Genetic Engineering. (n.d.). Disabled World. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/genetic-engineering.shtml

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