Is Genetic Engineering A Positive Course For Mankind?

Genetic engineering is one of the most effective but controversial ways of altering the fundamental nature of animals and plants, usually those which are used as food. This is done to try to improve the resistance of crops against pests and disease, to create larger animals which produce more food, and to produce medical drugs more cheaply and in greater quantities. The system is undeniably effective, but there are grave concerns about the effect on the environment and on the future ecology of the planet.

The factor which distinguishes genetic modification from other forms of scientific altering of substances is the changing of nucleic acids. These are effectively the building blocks of life, as they carry the genetic blueprint for all forms of animal and plant life. The characteristics of each specimen are largely determined by these blueprints, and the ability to alter them gives scientists the possibility of creating new specimens with improved characteristics. There is no dispute as to the potential benefits which this could bring to the world through increased food supplies, less wastage and damage through pestilence, and the greater availability of medical supplies. Those against the technology point to the potential dangers to safety and ecology.

There are two distinct levels to the practice of genetic modification, and they each have potentially different consequences. The most obvious level of work is to use genes from within the same species, but to try to isolate the best and most effective from individual specimens. This is relatively easy to do, and was the method used to produce the first genetically modified tomatoes. These were the first plants to be developed in this way to be made commercially available. The level beyond this is called transgenic modification, and introduces genes from other species. This increases greatly the number of possibilities, but obviously the risks increase also.

types of genetic engineering

The most common and well publicized use for genetic engineering is in the development of genetically modified food. This is a response to the shortages of food which prevail in many parts of the world, allied to the increasing resistance of crop pests to insecticides and other chemicals used in Western food production. It is believed that the development of improved strains of crops can increase the food yield, while at the same time reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and insecticides. There is no doubt that this is true, but the ecological side effects are harder to quantify.

Genetic modification was first attempted in plant species, and as of now it is still only plant based food which is commercially available in genetically modified form. Plants are easy to modify in either way, as you can find the strongest strains and repeatedly breed from them, while at the same time introducing genes from other plants to create completely new strains. Everything depends on the objective being sought, which is usually either improved durability and resistance of a greater food yield. The more complicated the genetic modification, the harder it is to predict the exact consequences.

genetic engineering

The genetic engineering of animals is considerably more complicated, but it has a far reaching potential. Many of the modifications which have been carried out so far are aimed at producing larger specimens of certain animals, so that the breeding programs produce more food for the same space and effort. It is also possible to produce farm animals which are more resistant against diseases, some of which can spread from farm to farm and cause huge losses in stock and capital. It is expected that commercially available genetically modified animal products will be authorized for sale in the near future.

The benefits which the world can derive from genetic modification are hard to quantify, but they are doubtless substantial. If food yields can be increased without the need to overuse chemical fertilizers, there is a possibility of feeding more of the world's population from the same area of land. There is also the possibility that food prices could fall over time, making it easier for families in all parts of the world to budget for their needs. Despite this, there are many who claim that genetic modification is a mistake which will severely affect the ecology of the planet, and that the real consequences of the technology are impossible to predict.

The only way to form your own informed opinion of genetic engineering is to carry out your own research, and to study both sides of the argument. There are many resources on the Internet which give you the views of those actively involved in developing the technology for what they hope will be the betterment of mankind, and also the views of the governments who are backing their activities. You will also find the views of environmental activists who point out the potential dangers in a future altered by genetic engineering.

 

 

 

Genetic Engineering News:

 

Around the web: Concerns with human genetic engineering, Gary Cohn on tax reform, and more - American Enterprise Institute

Around the web: Concerns with human genetic engineering, Gary Cohn on tax reform, and more
American Enterprise Institute
Since then, she's been meeting with stakeholdersEUR•unions and business types and the likeEUR•about how San Francisco, and California, might explore such a thing. Among the issues with a robot tax: What is a robot? Even roboticists have a hard time agreeing.

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Genetic Engineering Could Allow Us to Treat or Even Prevent Obesity - Futurism

Futurism

Genetic Engineering Could Allow Us to Treat or Even Prevent Obesity
Futurism
By genetically engineering mice to block the production of a certain protein, scientists have been able to turn the animals' calorie-storing "bad" fat into calorie-burning "good" fat. . Our bodies are home to two types of fat, one EURśgoodEURť and the .

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Scientists edit butterfly wing spots and stripes - Phys.Org

Phys.Org

Scientists edit butterfly wing spots and stripes
Phys.Org
By genetically engineering individuals from different species, we are quickly coming to grips with how this diversity is generated. Surprisingly, a single gene, and one that is used repeatedly throughout development, can have huge effects."The WntA .
Macroevolutionary shifts of WntA function potentiate butterfly wing-pattern diversityProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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New types of therapy mean cancer is going to become ever more survivable - The Economist

New types of therapy mean cancer is going to become ever more survivable
The Economist
New research tools, such as easily generated antibodies, rapid gene sequencing and ever easier genetic engineering, have revolutionised biologists' understanding of cancer. This understanding has allowed more specific approaches to the disease to be .

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EUR‹While AI, IoT, and automation are taking over we forgot about genetic engineering - Phoenix Business Journal

Phoenix Business Journal

EUR‹While AI, IoT, and automation are taking over we forgot about genetic engineering
Phoenix Business Journal
Genetic engineering is powerful because of what makes organisms instead of inorganic objects. They are made out many different types of cells. One may provide strength in bamboo, another may convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into sugar. A third may .

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FDA Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475000 - New York Times

CBC.ca

FDA Approves First Gene-Altering Leukemia Treatment, Costing $475000
New York Times
The therapy, marketed as Kymriah and made by Novartis, was approved for children and young adults for an aggressive type of leukemia EUR” B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia EUR” that has resisted standard treatment or relapsed. . To customize Kymriah .
US approves genetically engineering blood cells as childhood leukemia treatmentCBC.ca
FDA approval brings first gene therapy to the United StatesFDA.gov
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ)EUR”Patient Version - National Cancer InstituteNational Cancer Institute

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Engineering and Evolution in Biotechnology - Ethanol Producer Magazine

Ethanol Producer Magazine

Engineering and Evolution in Biotechnology
Ethanol Producer Magazine
Yeast strains used in the ethanol industry have remained largely static EUR” even genetic engineering for favorable traits has taken hold widely just in the past few years. Now, multiple companies provide upgraded strains and continue . DuPont is one .

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Genetically Engineered Corals Could Help Save the Coral Reefs - Interesting Engineering

Interesting Engineering

Genetically Engineered Corals Could Help Save the Coral Reefs
Interesting Engineering
The usual, well-established genetic engineering methods wouldn't work on this particular species. . The Symbiodinium, with the challenges presented by its genetic code, may be a candidate for one other type of genetic manipulation EUR CRISPR Cas9. This .

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