The Benefits of Genetic Engineering

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Almost three decades ago, on July 25, 1978, Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby” was born (Baird 1). With this birth another controversy broke out, do humans have the right to make life? Most of the concern comes from the fear of control over the production and development of human beings. But, those who are against cloning would most likely look the other way if they needed gene therapy after receiving a grim diagnosis. There are many aspects of genetic engineering and to thoroughly understand it looking into each is absolutely necessary. In order to understand genetic engineering, the key terms in this controversy that must be defined are the following: recombinant DNA technology, cloning, gene therapy, and the humane genome project.

Genetic engineering is the alteration of genetic material by direct intervention in the genetic processes with the purpose of producing new substances or improving functions of existing organisms. According to Gale’s Science of Everyday things, “it is a very young, exciting, and controversial branch of the biological sciences.” Genetic engineering has been used almost exclusively to make corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets resistant to herbicides or [that] make their own insecticide. Both advances offer real benefits to farmers by increasing yields or farm income” (Jacobson). Genetic engineering also offers the possibility for the cures of diseases and countless material improvements to daily life. Hopes for the benefits of genetic engineering are symbolized by the Human Genome Project, a vast international effort to categorize all the genes in the human species. On the other hand, genetic engineering frightens many with its potential for misuse; either in Nazi-style schemes for popu...

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