The Genetic Engineering: Friend Or Foe

1388 words - 6 pages

THE GENETIC ENGINEERING: FRIEND OR FOE

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The discussion about genetic engineering has been going on for a long time. Over the last two decades the science behind genetic engineering has advanced rapidly. Since scientists have gained the ability to map most of the human genome, they have begun to understand the different ways that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) can be manipulated or altered. The manipulation and altering of DNA can be done by many different methods, but the goals of these methods are all the same; to manipulate the genetic material in order to change its hereditary traits or to produce biological ...view middle of the document...

The descriptions of the three process that are use to manipulate the human genes are not an easy task at all. The engineering of the human genetic code deals with very complicated processes. The code consists of over billion base pairs. “These three billion base pairs are arranged in different sequences, yielding approximately 25,000 genes, each of which is responsible for some trait or facet of each of us. When combined with environmental factors, variations in the coding of those genes define our unique identities (Koespall 3)”

Given the complicated nature of genetic engineering some believe that the risks are worth the potential value that it may yield. Some believe that we must use technology to advance as a society. The ablity to treatment a disease by repairing or replacing defective genes or introducing genes to fight the disease would advance humanity as we know it. Recently, some autoimmune diseases and heart disease have been treated with gene therapy. “Diseases such as Huntington's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, and cystic fibrosis are caused by a defective gene. The hope is that soon, through genetic engineering, a cure can be found for these diseases by inserting a corrected gene, modifying the defective gene, or even performing genetic surgery. (Baird 13)” Eventually the hope is to completely eliminate certain genetic diseases as well as treat non-genetic diseases with an appropriate gene therapy.

Also, many pregnant women elect to have their fetuses screened for genetic defects. The results of these screenings can allow the parents and their physician to prepare for the arrival of a child who may have special needs before, during, and after delivery. “One possible future benefit of human genetic engineering is that, with gene therapy, a fetus with a genetic defect could be treated and even cured before it is born. There is also research into gene therapy for embryos before they are implanted into the mother through in-vitro fertilization.” (Poirot 56)

Another benefit of genetic engineering is the creation pharmaceutical products that are superior to their predecessors. These new pharmaceuticals are created through cloning certain genes. “Currently on the market are bio-engineered insulin (which was previously obtained from sheep or cows) and human growth hormone (which in the past was obtained from cadavers) as well as bio-engineered hormones and blood clotting factors.” (Poirot 58) The hope in the future is to be able to create plants or fruits that contain a certain drug by manipulating their genes in the laboratory.

An argument against genetic engineering is that it is accelerating the process of natural selection. This means that what would take millions of years in terms of evolution; scientists and test tubes can manage and achieve. The problem is “What takes place in nature is a holistic process that includes all of the possible variables. What takes place in a laboratory holds, by definition, all...

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