When we envision our future, we usually imagine a future free of disease and physical sickness, but have you ever wondered how a disease-free society will be accomplished? In the twenty-first century our world will be a very different place because of genetic manipulation and engineering. There are many pros and cons to this debate, but it is undeniable that the effects from the new revelations in the field of genetics are far-reaching and deep impacting. Genetic engineering is a radical new technology, one that breaks down fundamental barriers, not only between species, but also between humans, animals, and plants. By combining the genes of dissimilar and unrelated species, permanently altering their genetic codes, novel organisms are created that will pass the genetic changes onto their offspring through heredity. Scientists are now snipping, inserting, recombining, rearranging, editing, and programming genetic material. Animal genes and even human genes are being inserted into plants or animals creating unimagined transgenic life forms. For the first time in history, human beings are becoming the architects of life. Bio-engineers will be creating tens of thousands of novel organisms over the next few years. The prospect is frightening.
First we must see that genetic engineering offers many potential benefits to the twenty-first century in the two fields of agriculture and medicine. In agriculture, we can now grow plants and animals faster, stronger, and easier. We can alter plants to have them grow ten times larger than their original size, and we can create animals without parents by cloning (Scott). In medicine, genetic engineering has revolutionized the field into something completely new. We now produce cures that are specifically tailored to diseases, which have lengthened the average life span by almost ten years, detect and eliminate birth defects in babies, and have people that are healthier now than at any time in history (Epstein).
But with that almost unlimited power, there is a high price for the twenty-first century to pay. With each bonus we as a society receive from genetics, we also created genetically altered super-diseases. Genes from bacteria, viruses, and insects, which have never been part of the human diet, are being spliced into our food. Genetic engineering is not an exact science. Scientists can...
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.... They want to charge for products, and a high market share. I feel there are fundamental flaws with the genetic engineering approach, and am highly skeptical of those who would be driving its direction. I affirm our rights as individuals and as a community to make a choice about the direction we take, for if we do not have that, then why put up with all the messy aspects of having free will? So, as we approach the twenty-first century, we go into the realm of the unknown. However, it is assuredly a future that will be blessed and cursed with genetic engineering, and one that will look back at the nineteenth century and remember the development that influenced it the most as genetic engineering.
Epstein, Dr. Ron. "Why You Should Be Concerned About Genetically Engineered Food." 2 Nov. 1999.
Hawaleshka, Danylo. "Unnatural Selection." Maclean's 20 Jan. 1997. 20 Oct. 1999.
"Health, Environmental, and Ethical Concerns of Genetically Engineered Foods." 11 July 1999. 26 Oct. 1999.
Scott, Mary. "Food Focus: Genetically Engineered Foods - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions." Natural Foods Merchandises Nov.1997. 26 Oct. 1999 .
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