Genetic engineering poses extremely difficult questions for scholars, ethicists and biologists. Some regard it to be harmful for humanity, in the long run and some hail it to be a great option for a medical breakthrough. Genetic engineering is an issue that has been a hotly debated topic in the media. When discussing its impact on the society, we must take a look at both sides of the coin.
Making the Seemingly Impossible Possible
Genes are one of the most fascinating chemical and biological parts of human cells. They make you what you are. Your genes can probably tell everything about you, even when you are just a baby. Some or all characteristics of parents are passed on to their offspring through genes. If your parents are tall, then it is highly likely that you will also reach the same height. It is all because of your genes.
Found in the chromosomes, there can be hundreds of genes in a chromosome. Genes and chromosomes are made up of deoxyribonucleic (DNA) (shaped like a double helix, DNA carry vital genetic information). Each gene in our body has a unique function. Genes guide our cells to make proteins that are vital for our growth and development.
Genes exist in pairs and if you are tall, just like your parents, one gene from a pair of genes of each of your parents, has been passed on to you! In genetic engineering, scientists aim to isolate genes and manipulate them for better functioning. Medical science has gone way ahead in the recent years and now it is possible to prepare genes to be implanted in other organisms. Moreover, it is now possible to create transgenic organisms in whom, modified genes are introduced by technological means.
Billions of dollars have been invested in the genetic engineering branch and it is believed that it has the potential to cure hereditary diseases, eliminate food and hunger problems and give an individual the physical appearance he or she wishes for. If the potential of genetic engineering is to be trusted, it can be said that man is almost competing with God, to make the unthinkable happen. However, genetic engineering technology and its ideas raise some serious ethical questions. Have a look.
Ethical Impact of Genetic Engineering
There are numerous ethical questions that form an integral aspect of our discussion in understandin Here are they.
- Several health risks associated to gene modifications raise serious questions regarding the success of gene therapy, a medical process used to cure genetic disorders and medical complications.
- Most experiments regarding genetic modifications are done on animals which is strongly protested by animal lovers and NGOs.
- Isn't combining human, plant, and animal DNA, to develop multiple traits in a transgenic organism, an open invitation to new diseases and complications.
- What about the nutritional value of genetically modified foods (GOMs)? Are they disease free?
- In case of transgenic changes in humans, won't it would lead to abnormal behavior? What if genetic changes give a human being different behavioral tendencies that might be negative or dangerous for their fellow beings?
- Gene splicing has raised tough criticism because it is believed that humanity is trying to assume the role of Nature, creating lives, modifying it and choosing the best they want. Indirectly, they are interfering with the natural process of Nature.
- One of the biggest concerns of genetic engineering is that should we determine our evolutionary future? Have we reached such a peak of humanity that we can create and modify lives?
- If genetically modified foods (GMOs) are given a green signal, won't it create a race amongst the food companies to commercialize food without any plausible reason. Will the third world countries benefit from the food production or will companies eat all the profits?
As you can see, social impacts of genetic engineering are many in number and it requires dedicated efforts of scholars, government experts and geneticists to come up with answers to the potentially difficult questions regarding the field of genetic engineering.