Genetic Engineering 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 humanitys 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 humanitys best advantage. This speech will investigate the ways in which genetic engineering affects two important areas in todays society. The first one will be the improvement of the worlds agricultural techniques. With an ever-increasing growth in world population, the Earths 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 worlds 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 Earths resources. To achieve this, it would be necessary to extensively use agricultural technology.
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. Bibliography 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 Wagnalls Corporation Yong, Kang C. “Vaccine Production by Recombinant DNA Technology.” Pergamon Press 15 Feb. 1993: 39-62.