What is it?
Genetic engineering is the deliberate modification of the genetics of an organism, by manipulating it's DNA or it's genome, for medical, industrial, and research purposes. DNA basically the "blueprint" that makes up an organisms genes. The information of the DNA is stored in four types proteins or "chemical bases" that occupy the codes and information for the genes and DNA. These include adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. By taking the genes from an organism, and inserting it into the DNA of another, scientists can create a desired trait or feature to that organism, through another one. Scientists have been manipulating the proteins in the DNA of animals, plants, etc. for many decades. For example, about a decade ago, scientists in South Korea successfully genetically engineered cats to make their fur glow greenish-yellow under a black light. These cats also had the ability to pass this gene to their offspring. Scientists also discovered a way to change genes in trees to make them grow faster and stronger, and create better wood. Another example would be genetically engineered tomatoes. These tomatoes can stay fresh longer, which also means they can be shipped further and harvested at the same time, instead of different parts of the fields at different times. Genetic engineering could possibly be the next step in the evolution of humanity scientists believe it will potentially be, but of course, it has its downsides.
Pros of Genetic Engineering
Genetic Engineering in Agriculture has lots of benefits for the economy, the environment, etc. for many years decades. For instance, scientists can genetically engineer seeds, so that they are resistant to pesticides, which will initially kill the weeds that are harmful for the crops. Farmers will spray entire crops with pesticides, killing anything other than the pesticide-resistant plants. Some seeds are also genetically engineered to tolerate drought and survive, with very little water. More successful crops mean more produce, more produce means more food more people who need it, and more produce also means more jobs, and is beneficial to the economy. Not only has genetic engineering benefited through crops, but also with 'healthier' foods. More nutrients and vitamins are enriched into genetically engineered plants, providing foods that are better for(and quicker to regain) human health, than regular, standard produce. A good example for this would be "Golden Rice", which is basically white rice, genetically engineered to be packed with Vitamin A. Rice is a universal "home-grown" food, where more than half of the world's population grows crops of rice as a main food source. Golden Rice is purposed for developing countries, whereas most people lack Vitamin A. Shortage of Vitamin A in these greatly inhabited areas leaves a big as a mark as about 670 000 children under the age of five killed, per year. Golden rice is able to make someone well again with the Vitamin A, and it is hoped that these nerve-racking numbers will go down. Another benefit to genetic engineering in food is some produce can be genetically engineered to stay fresh longer, and the growth rate could be increased. Foods like these can be shipped further, stored longer, and in demand faster. Lastly, genetic engineering has benefited farm livestock. Scientists are hoping to create more ways for livestock that produce better products, and being more resistant to diseases better than average livestock (e.g. cows, pigs, chickens, etc.). They can also be genetically engineered to increase efficiency to use nutrients in an efficient, and eco-friendly way. As an example, some cows have been genetically engineered to 'pass less gas'. Methane is made with "cow flatulence", which is a big part of the issue of global warming. Cows that 'pass less gas' than are produced to deflect the impacts that cow "flatulence" or "gas" has on the environment.
White Rice Compared to Golden Rice
In humans, genetic engineering we think, has had the most beneficial impacts in this category. Some of the most destructive diseases and illnesses could be cured and treated with the potential of genetic engineering in the future. as And, many genetic disorders and conditions may never be helped for with out the technology of genetic engineering. Things like curing or treating diseases/illnesses in children before they are born, and helping people who risk passing down their negative genetics to their children, may be possible with genetic engineering. Humans may also be able to potentially live longer. With common, specific causes of death (diseases, disorders, etc.) scientists can discover a way to treat those occurrences, providing longer lives because of it. For example of a disease cured with genetic engineering, by talking the genes of human insulin into the DNA of bacteria, years ago, we came up with human insulin that reproduces itself quickly, therefore creating a treatment for an individuals have lack of insulin, otherwise known as diabetes.
With advanced pest and weed control, cures and treatment research, and faster growing, longer lasting products, genetic engineering will provide economic investments, large profit, and give a great deal of benefits for the human society, and hopefully more so for the future. These benefits of this include lowered food prices, possibility of the feeding of more people in the third world countries. Also thanks to genetic engineering, more jobs will be inducted into the society, and the population will most likely increase (to possibly occupy those jobs) with fewer people dying due to diseases and conditions that can be cured or treated with the help of genetic engineering. In hopes of further discoveries with genetic engineering in the future, some people believe the modification of genetics in organisms will dramatically change the human society for the better.
Cons of Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering in agriculture may have plenty of positive impacts in the current world today, but it could cause some threatening issues in the future. Specifically speaking, our main problem with genetically engineered agriculture would be the pesticide-resistant plants we had talked about earlier. Genetically modified crops could potentially release toxins into the environment around them, or worse, pass their superior gene to the very weeds surrounding it. These "super weeds" could potentially spread the unwanted gene to other plants, become invasive, and/or release harmful toxins to the environment, and the animals that consume them, throwing off food-chains in existing ecosystems. Not being sure these outcomes could happen in our genetically engineered plants, may be worse than knowing them. Scientists aren't completely sure if unwanted traits or outcomes could be put into the modified plants, so there still is the potential danger that the plants could harm animals, ecosystems, or humans.
Genetic engineering may be as dangerous as it sounds. Not knowing the potential danger of manipulating the genes of organisms (humans, animals, plants) is probably the worst danger of genetic engineering. Firstly though, genetic engineering is not natural, so is it "right"? People with religious beliefs will most likely be against manipulating the genes of their children and what they eat in the future. It could even go to as a far to the extent where as we could chose the hair and eye colour of our children, and cure every disease, but would it be safe, or would everything back fire on us? After all, these things persisted throughout history. Besides that, by genetic engineering organisms, we could under go the lack of diversity, which is important. We need a variety of the things to function different parts. The unknown consequences are countless, from allergic and negative impacts on consumed genetically engineered foods, in otherwise healthy individuals, to where one thing to goes wrong and attack a specific gene that we engineered a species in, and without the diversity, it could wipe out that whole kind, which could, potentially happen to us if it goes too far.
With greater amounts of people living because of the greater supply of food, cures and treatments discovered for conditions and diseases, etc. thanks to genetic engineering, the human population increasing may not be as beneficial as it seems. With the world already facing issues with overpopulation, genetic engineering is certainly not going to help with the problem, because there's only so many people the world can support. Along with the effects of overpopulation, with more people being born at an even faster rate than dying, the broader issue of global warming will also be negatively impacted by genetic engineering. More people breathing more air, and destroying more habitats for places to live, creates pollution, which is the exact cause of this fateful issue that could certainly impact the society dramatically.
After considering the pros and cons of genetic engineering, we still don't know whether genetic engineering should continue, and we should still use living things as our guinea pigs for our human research and discoveries, or we should in fact, acknowledge that this is a terrible idea, and refrain from genetic engineering because of it's potential risks. If we were to forget all about our potential discoveries, and hide genetic engineering under a blanket because of the dangerous risks, that would be utterly foolish. However, continuing our research and testing could backfire and change the world for the worse also. The question is; should we risk it? In order to answer that question, we must understand things two things; genetic engineering has its pros, and its cons. Right now, we’re on the fence because genetic engineering could expand our knowledge as humans, and eventually we might be able to find an antidote for every disease, modify ourselves for space, or even create a new species, or, we could suffer from the exact opposite. Since all things things are potential, we don’t know what the future holds. The risks involving this issue are quite severe, but the benefit like end of it could be well worth the possibilities. So, should genetic engineering just, stop? We think the answer to that is, no. If we skip this chance of exploring how we can actually form new life, who knows what discoveries we’ll uncover. And by then, we as a species might have come so advanced, that we can overcome the chance of everything going in reverse. So in a nutshell, we believe yes, genetic engineering is a good thing and we should continue to use it to expand our knowledge, however, we must proceed this with caution, and protection. This way, at least the chances of a malfunction will be decreased, and life here on Earth will be somewhat protected, but making ground-breaking discoveries that could possibly change the way we interpret life itself, while doing so.
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