Genetic Engineering Essay

A girl is born without Tay-Sachs disease, a devasting genetic disorder that has
decimated a lot of babies worldwide. A leukemia patient has defective bone
marrow replaced with healthy bone marrow that was cloned from tissue from her
own cells. These futuristic scenarios are not part of the debate for genetic
engineering but they should be. Many people are afraid that somebody will clone
Hitler or some evil person, but that is far from the fact. Genetic engineering
can be used to make many aspects of human life better, including saving lives.

The rapid development of humanity’s ability to control the gene will
eventually lead to a promising future for the entire planet as a whole. Genetic
engineering resulted not from the belief that nature should be manipulated and
perfected by humanity. Rather, its principle aim is, as of any other technology,
to improve the quality of life for the people of this planet. Therefore, it is
necessary to weigh the benefits and consequences of this relatively recent
breakthrough and determine in which ways it can be used to humanity’s best
advantage. This speech will investigate the ways in which genetic engineering
affects two important areas in today’s society. The first one will be the
improvement of the world’s agricultural techniques. With an ever-increasing
growth in world population, the Earth’s resources are constantly becoming
scarce. The advent of genetic engineering may be used to avert the occurrence of
worldwide famine and starvation. The second one investigated will be in the
field of medical development and study. Currently, genetic diseases are
decimating the world’s population. Thousands of people have already died
without a single worthy treatment or cure. Worldwide acceptance and support of
this technology would aid in our battle against these diseases. According to the
United Nations medium projections issued in 1990 (Population Council, 1994), the
global population will be increasing from 5.3 billion in 1990 to 8.5 billion in
the year 2025. Consequently, there will be a much greater need for food,
therefore accelerating further the consumption of Earth’s resources. To
achieve this, it would be necessary to extensively use agricultural technology.

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However our current use of pesticides and other chemical fertilizers pose a
serious evironmental threat. Using genetic engineering would ultimately reduce
the amount of potentially dangerous chemical substances we introduce into the
environment. It would as well make food production more efficient therefore
reducing distribution costs. Thanks to genetic engineering, Geneticists are
currently able to create a resistant strain of the ordinary supermarket tomato
(Pen*censored*, 1992). Using a technique called antisense genetics, the gene
that is responsible for allowing tomatoes to soften and ripen can be transformed
to produce the opposite effect. The billions of tomatoes that circulating all
around the world can therefore be made to resist the normal abuse of shipping
and transport, and also having a longer shelf life. This practice could be
applied to all other sorts of fruits and vegetables. This would allow for less
of a waste of food therefore, putting less of a strain on human resources.

Diseases and genetic defects have always been a major cause of concern for our
society. Antibiotics, which used to be successful against pathogens, are now
starting to become useless since the viruses have become resistant to the
medications administered. Therefore a proposed alternative is the use of genetic
engineering or more specifically, gene therapy, to cure diseases at the DNA
level. This method is known as biotechnology and can aid in the treatment of
diseases like a hormone defiency. Currently, a common diagnostic practice with
unborn fetuses is the process of genetic screening. A needle is inserted into
the uterus of the pregnant woman and is used to extract some amniotic fluid. As
a result, several hundred diseases and defects can be diagnosed before birth
(Office of Technology, 1990). Therefore parents can choose to have an abortion
if they do not want their child to have a defect. For over two centuries,
vaccination has changed very little from the time of Edward Jenner, the first
physician to have ever tried the method on a human being (Yong Kang, 1989). But
this process has now become obsolete because by killing the virus, it is more
likely to mutate into a more resistant strain for which is incurable. As a
result, every new strain would require a new vaccine costing more money and
time. A new method of producing vaccines is currently being studied and involves
recombining the DNA of the virus so that it will not be able to reproduce. This
would be as effective as a regular vaccine except without the chance of
mutation. If genetic engineering becomes unrestricted the world would become a
better place. Worldwide famine and starvation could possibly end through the use
of technology in the agriculture field. The death rate would go down and very
dramatically in Third World countries. We could see the end of diseases like
AIDS and conditions like hemophilia. If you are interested in supporting genetic
engineering you can write to your congressman and ask him or her to vote down
the restrictions on genetic engineering. You can also make a petition a send it
to your governor.

Page Coates, Joseph F. “The Promise of Genetics.” Futurist
September/October 1997: 18-22. Sirs Researcher. Online. Netscape. 9 April 1998.

Office of Technology Assessment, Biology, Medicine, and the Bill of Rights,
(1990, September 1). Chapter 4A Human Genetics and the Constitution, U.S.

History. Bureau of Electronic Publishing. Pendick, Daniel. “Industry Serves Up
the Fruit of Tomato Biotechnology”, Science News 11 Nov. 1992: 376 Population
Council, The, (1994). “Population”, Microsoft Encarta ’95. Funk and
Wagnall’s Corporation Yong, Kang C. “Vaccine Production by Recombinant DNA
Technology.” Pergamon Press 15 Feb. 1993: 39-62


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