The Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering has been a major topic of discussion ever since

'Dolly' the sleep was cloned. Its raises ethical, moral and religious

questions due to the fact it is tampering with the makeup of

organisms, and certain religions believe it is not our right to do

this.

Genetic engineering involves the re-arranging of DNA sequences,

artificial horizontal gene transfer and cloning. There has been little

progress in the re-arranging of genes in the last several years, due

to the complexity of the problem, as there is no technique developed

to analyse the sequence of DNA quickly. The analysis of E-coli DNA

sequence took 12 years! Artificial horizontal gene transfer is a

method of gene transfer between different species. Scientists transfer

some known 'small' genes to another species to improve their

functions. There are many unknown factors of this, as well as a low

success rate, so very few products exist. As for cloning, the only

clone is 'Dolly' the sheep, who was genetically duplicated from a

complete set of adult chromosomes. Scientists have been unable to

repeat the experiment, so many of them question its validity.

There are advantages to genetic engineering; despite the fact we are

more informed of its possible dangers. These advantages are mainly

known in the advantages of genetically modified crops (or GM foods).

Plants can be produced that are resistant to plant diseases (like

fungi) and animal pests (like insects). Plants could also be created

that could survive in less favourable conditions, such as poor soil

quality, such as giving plants a nitrogen fixing cap...

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Another argument is that the manipulation of plant and animal DNA

could be leading to the genetic manipulation of humans, which would

cause a public outcry.

Should we be allowed to tamper with genetic make-up when it has

progressed without interruption from humans for billions of years?

Religious people believe we should not tamper with what god created.

Should we be carrying out research into an area many people feel

strongly against? These are the kinds of moral questions we should

consider before we take this any further, although scientists are

proceeding with research without fully considering the beliefs of

other people, believing they are doing is right. Surely we should be

seriously considering the implications of our actions involving

genetic engineering, as the next breakthrough could be tomorrow.

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