Genetic Engineering: You Choose Frankenstein Or Einstein

1948 words - 8 pages

What is it that makes you unique? Is it your charming smile? Perhaps it’s the dazzle in your eyes. Maybe it’s your unique personality that makes you a cut above the rest. Some would proclaim that it is our genetic composition that makes us different from everyone else. Over the past decade we have seen remarkable advancements in the field of genetic engineering. These developments have the potential to change our life, as we know it, forever. Will mankind continue to thrive in a society where genes can be patented? Only time will tell. What can be determined is that these innovations in genetic engineering come with certain advantages and disadvantages to both man and animal, and the ...view middle of the document...

Furthermore, man is benefited by genetic engineering in the field of Agriculture. As the world’s population continues to expand, so will the need for adequate nutritious foods. The first genetically engineered field crop to be marketed in the USA was the Flavr Savr tomato, which was endowed with genes to delay ripening (Susan Wright). The FDA approved this tomato for sale in 1994. The tomato failed commercially, however, in part because of its high retail price. Later that year, a virus-resistant squash became the second genetically engineered crop to gain approval in the United States (USDA). Since then many biotech companies have designed crops that produce their own pesticides, don’t bruise easily, and stay fresh longer. Others are attempting to create crops that can sustain major temperature changes. Monsato (a biotechnology innovator) is currently designing a rice grain that is naturally enriched with vitamin A. Most of the world’s population that is suffering from malnutrition consumes a diet with rice as its main staple and suffers from vitamin A deficiencies. All of these changes are meant to help enhance the world’s food source (Rick Weiss 3).

However, many advocacy groups are against genetically engineered foods. They feel that these foods pose certain health risks and can even have negative effects on nature’s ecological balance (Philip Brasher). One of these groups (Environment Defense) sites a recent scare with the biotech product Starlink corn. This corn was used to make taco shells manufactured by Kraft Inc. for use by Taco Bell. Twenty-four people became extremely ill after consuming this product. The Center for Disease Control did a follow-up study of the inflicted and concluded there was not enough evidence to determine if it was in fact the taco shells that caused the outbreak (Brasher). But nonetheless the product was recalled until further study. Other issues voiced by opponents concerned the possible human health risks of genetically modified food. “A 1996 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (for example) found that a soybean engineered to contain a gene form the Brazil nut to boost the bean’s nutritional value could trigger harmful reactions in people allergic to Brazil nuts. This finding raised the specter of consumers eating potentially life-threatening ingredients without knowing about it until it was to late” (Weiss 4). I know that I personally would consume altered foods as long as adequate research is performed on them to ascertain they will not be harmful to my health.

In addition, many Ecologists feel that plants that produce their own pesticides could be harmful to the delicate ecologic balance. These plants could lead to harmful insects building resistance to common pesticides. This would greatly affect the effectiveness of the environmentally safe ones already in use (Weiss 4). Organic gardeners and farmers would have to resort to using new pesticides, which may not be as...

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