Genetic Engineering, also referred to as Recombinant DNA Technology was deemed as a major milestone in the field of science and technology. The technology essentially involves modifying the original genetic constitution of an organism by transplanting foreign genes. This technology has been extensively used in the agricultural field to produce high-quality, pesticide-resistant genetically modified crops.
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It has also been employed in animals to increase their productivity, to use them for scientific research and testing, and to synthesize medically significant animal products. The most controversial and complicated aspect of this expertise is Human Genetic Engineering- whereby the genotype of a fetus can be altered to produce desired results. It can also be used for the purposes of cloning and treatment of certain genetic diseases by stem cell therapy.
Though the technology sounds extremely promising on paper, it has its own share of safety and ethical concerns. Scientists have still been unable to decipher the human genetic code completely. One particular gene can perform multiple functions, which scientists might not be aware of. It becomes highly dangerous to alter the genetic constitution in such conditions, as it can potentially lead to major genetic abnormalities.
In 1989, genetically engineered food product, Tryptophan killed 37 people while 1500 others were permanently disabled. (Fagan). Genetic Engineering also poses several environmental threats as it threatens the wildlife and food cycle, alters the natural gene pool, and disturbs the ecosystem. Another issue of concern is that the genes are often transferred from one species to another, which unsettles the age-old doctrine of fixity of species. Human Genetic Engineering has been the focus of heated debate, both within the scientific fraternity and the common masses. People have vehemently opposed the idea as it disturbs the intrinsic human gene pool.
Various genetic enhancements can be made using this technique, but they would inevitably meddle with the evolutionary process and the laws of nature. In a desperate attempt to conserve the desirable genes, human beings will eliminate thousands of them, which might lead to a genetic bottleneck. The most hazardous clause of this technique is its irreversibility. Once the genetic modification has been made, it cannot be reversed under any circumstances.
Scientists urgently need to formulate a code of conduct and limit the use of this scientific technology. Besides scientific and medical dimensions, measures must be made to consider the religious, ethical, and environmental proportions as well. In case that does not happen, human beings will have only themselves to blame a few decades later for creating this Frankenstein.
Resources Examined – http://www.istpp.org/genetic_engineering.html The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy is an organization affiliated with the USA government. The official website of this organization had detailed information about the harmful effects of genetic engineering, both on the environment and human beings.
http://www.nwrage.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=468. This source is the official webpage of the Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, an organization dedicated to fighting against genetic engineering. It contained the scientific explanation behind the tryptophan-related deaths.
Fagan, John. Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering. 1997. Web.
The ISTPP site. Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy. 2008. Web.