What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic Engineering is the development and application of scientific methods, procedures, and technologies that manipulate genetic material in order to alter the traits of a cell, organism, or population. It is very young, only being around since the 1950’s. Genetic Engineering offers the possibility to cure diseases, but also has the tendency to form new diseases. However, Genetic Engineering doesn’t only take place in humans and animals, but it is also used in plant. Since the 1970’s, plants and crops have been genetically modified to help farmers and sellers receive a boost in sales and/or business.
Social Impacts of Genetic Engineering
Genetic Engineering has been around since the 1900’s. Socially, Genetic Engineering is being used in many ways to help benefit humans, and their daily lives. For instance, with genetic engineering humans would be able to alter/design the way they want their babies to either look or act. This is also know as creating your own super/designer baby. Designer babies are created by the alteration of its DNA. For example, let's pretend you and your wife always dreamt about wanting to have a baby boy, with nice blue eyes and luscious blond hair. With genetic engineering, you and your wife can make that dream become true. A genetic engineer can help by changing the baby's eye colour, the babies hair colour and the way the baby were to act, with just replacing its DNA with the DNA from another baby which already has the features you always dreamt of. Now wouldn’t that be cool? You get to design your own baby with what you want and the way you want it to be done. However, it would not be that easy, since it would cost you a lot of money, and the alteration of the cells, may lead to a new disease. Now would you want to risk your baby's life, in order to make yourself happy?
Moving on, with Genetic Engineering you don’t know what else it can cause. The alteration of your cells, may help you to cure one type of disease but you never truly know if another disease is being formed. Now, that may not always be the case. Genetic Engineering can lead to smaller things like diabetes, which can be cured with minimal equipment,or to bigger things like cancer, which require a lot of medical assistance. The ability to imagine what might go wrong with Genetic Engineering or the technology used to help cure the disease is limited by the currently incomplete understanding of physiology, genetics, and nutrition. All of this is only taken into account, if the surgery goes as planned. However, something could always go wrong during a surgery, especially one regarding your cells and DNA since they are so small. Accidents in human genetic engineering could cause problems ranging from minor medical problems, to death. Now would you want to risk your life during a surgery, if you knew there a good chance you might not make it out alive? I know I wouldn’t. However, some people may totally disagree with me, and tell me that if you had an incurable disease, and the only way to help yourself is to perform a surgery associated with genetic engineering, why wouldn’t you take the chance, that may never come up again.
Ecological Impacts of Genetic Engineering
An economic impact that seems to be a logical consequence to genetic engineering is that it could only be for the rich. Genetic engineering is a high profile that should not be taken for granted because of the delicate attention to detail that is needed. However, the rich could also use this to their advantage and modify themselves to be immortal. There are two very clear and possible problems with immortality. They are: People with less money would unfortunately have to face death, the wealthy would take advantage and modify themselves even more. From those two possibilities, many more serious question and even tougher decisions for society. For example, you have a family of four, you children are twins. With the advanced technology within your time period allows humans to genetically modify themselves for a “very generous price”. As a parent, you would always want the best for your child and in this scenario, it is avoiding death. However, you and your significant other are working on low-paid jobs and are not genetically modified yourself, meaning you do not have the same advantages like durability as your colleagues. How would a parent in that time period live knowing that they cannot prevent the death of their son/daughter? Adding onto that, what would you do if you had enough money for one genetic modification? Would you choose you, your significant other, or one of your twins? Which of the twins deserves to be genetically modified over the other? How would this affect the kid's lifestyle? These are tough decisions nobody wants to make.
Effect on Available Jobs
Moving on, it could affect work for other humans as well. For instance, you are an owner of a company and you have to decide on two people, one that is genetically modified to be fit for the job and one that is not modified but also fit for the job. The logical option would be to pick someone that was genetically modified over the unmodified human being. This is a problem for the economy because it would affect unemployment rate and could influence individuals that they would need to be genetically modified to get a good job and be hired, meaning they would have to pay as much as $100,000. Moreover, it could affect the it could the amount jobs required as well. This could lead to a drastically higher unemployment rate due to the current world population and the uncontrollable birthrate among living beings. With less people working means more people in poverty because they will eventually run out of money to maintain their living.
People would rather hire someone with more to offer (Someone who was genetically modified)
For the Rich
Also, picky-parents would have the opportunity to create the ideal baby for their family. With the cost looking to be as much as $100,000, parents would be able to design superior physical, mental and psychological attributes to their soon-to-be baby. There are good and bad things about this situation. The good is that it could be a solution to having modified and unmodified beings in the world. With the tremendously high birthrate, it would be ideal for to modify the baby before birth. However, this could be very bad because it is not very cost friendly to the parents. It may even influence the family to have a one child instead of two because of the cost itself.
Cost for Farming Industry
The cost of genetic engineering may be harmful for humans, but it is a money maker for the farming industry. As for farming, genetic engineering is vital for humanity. It provides larger crop size, less use of pesticides, faster growth, and many more benefits. By using less pesticides, it instantly saves money for the farmer, allowing them to create a greater profit. This relates because the greater the profit the farmer gets, the more wealthy the farmer will be. Putting all things aside, the the global farm income is $78.4 billion and on average income has increased $100 per hectare. This could also be a solution for some people who need money to genetically modify themselves. But the downside of this is the seeds of the crop could be very expensive for farmers and third-world countries. If this were to happen, the same problem of “genetic engineering is for the wealthy”, occurs.
Environmental Impact of Genetic Engineering
The advantages of genetic engineering are very important to us, however, it still causes great disadvantages that could potentially change everything. A major role genetic engineering is apart of is genetically modified foods. Nowadays, most farmers choose to genetically modify their crops for the advantages it could give their business. However, the disadvantages should be taken into account as well when deciding to make such a drastic change.
The advantages include: an increased crop size, faster growth, more effective fertilizer, less pesticides needed, less water needed, longer lasting products, more cost effective, nutritional values could be enhanced, and even crop breeding. To clarify crop breeding, it is when parts the DNA of one organism is extracted and combined with the DNA of another plant. Therefore, a new type of crop is created with more benefits.
As for the disadvantages of genetically modified foods are: traits from modified crops could spread to unmodified crops, there is an increase of herbicide-tolerant plants, crop breeding, more use of pesticides, and affecting ecosystems for other animals. When traits from a modified crop has the possibility to spread to a plant that is not modified, it could lead to new allergens and toxins that can harm humans and animals when consumed. This is very unsafe because the two organisms have not been mated together, therefore the genetic engineers do not have an idea of what may occur. The increase of herbicide-tolerant plants is an issue because it causes the farmer to use two times the amount of herbicides than they are suppose to. Herbicides are a chemical pesticide that is used to kill unwanted plants, such as weeds. However, these plants could adapt even more and may cause the farmer to use three times the amount instead of its original amount. An example of the problem are superweeds. Superweeds are an unneeded plant that grows in the farms that have adapted to an abnormal amount of pesticides, making it very tough for the farmer to get rid of.
Next, is the more use of pesticides. After discovering that there is an increase of herbicide-tolerant plants, it causes the farmer to use more pesticides to complete their task. The problem with more pesticides is that they are linked to various types of cancers, as well as disorders that can affect the neurological and immune system
Affects of Crops within the Environment
Genetic engineering also affect animals within the vicinity because it makes them more vulnerable to the diseases the genetically modified. This could cause an outbreak of disease to other species as well because every animal is another's prey. Furthermore, it could affect the biodiversity in the ecosystem. This can occur when all the plants are contaminated with either herbicides or the diseases that could have spread, making the ecosystem uninhabitable for the animals. This will cause the species to move to a new location, which would end up over populating the area.Moving on, crop breeding was stated as an advantage, but can also be a disadvantage when looked further in-depth. When crop breeding, it creates the crop to be unnatural, which many people could be against. As a result of this, it could scare other individuals into thinking the crop is not healthy. These disadvantages occur because once a genetically modified plant is put into the open world, there is little that could be done to prevent it from spreading to other plants and animals.
Positives of Genetic Engineering
Moving on from plants, genetic engineering can still affect the environment for people in more ways than just foods. As for the positive way, it can help eliminate diseases like: HIV, some forms of genetic blindness, familial hypercholesterolemia (high levels of bad cholesterol), sickle cell anemia, and hemophilia.