Genetic Engineering: The Final Frontier Essay, Research Paper
In February of 1997 Dolly, the first successful mammalian clone, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. After the extensive news coverage of this momentous event, the study of genetic engineering and recombinant DNA was thrown into the public spotlight. From that day until this peoples, governments and organizations throughout the world have heatedly discussed the issues surrounding genetic modification and engineering. Over the past several years there has been loud public outcry against the use of such experimental procedures because of the possibility of deadly outcomes. Even though not much is known about genetic engineering, in its many forms, this significant discovery has the boundless potential to improve our lives and must be allowed to progress despite the risks it poses and the public outcry against it.
It is true that we are just on the brink of discovering all of the dangers and benefits of genetic engineering and there is a lot of important information that still remains unknown. But instead of seeing the immense potential benefits of this mind-boggling discovery, the American public – fed on science fiction novels, horror stories of environmental disaster, a ?growing mistrust of science? (Nelkin 1), and the fear of the unknown ? automatically reject this god sent breakthrough.
Even though the risks are great, the beneficial possibilities are endless. Genetic engineering should be allowed to progress because of the potential benefits for the human species outweigh the consequences. For example, it will be possible for cows to will be genetically engineered to produce pharmaceuticals in their milk. This means that vaccination shots and pills would become obsolete. Babies could be brought up immune to diseases by simply being fed this milk. Imagine the impact on the quality of life for people who live in third world countries like Somalia. Whole countries could be made healthy and immune to disease.
Malnutrition, a common problem in many third world countries ?where impoverished peoples rely on a single crop such as rice for the main staple of their diet? (Whitman 3), could also possibly be cured with genetic engineering. Rice does not provide all of the nutrients that the body needs and in these countries other food is very scarce. If rice or bread, another major staple, are genetically engineered to contain additional necessary vitamins and minerals then we could go a long way towards wiping out malnutrition all over the world.
But perhaps, the area that stands to benefit the most from genetic engineering is medicine. Organ transplants and cosmetic procedures, like silicone breast implants, that may cause disease would soon cease to exist. Instead of using materials foreign to the body for such procedures, doctors will be able to manufacture bone, fat, connective tissue, or cartilage that match the patient?s tissues exactly, thus ensuring that the needed tissue will be free of rejection by their immune system. Victims of terrible accidents that deform the face and body would be able to have their features repaired with new, safer technology. Limbs for amputees would be regenerated and anyone would be able to have their appearance altered to their satisfaction without the risk of leaking silicone gel into their bodies, or the other problems that occur with present day plastic surgery. Because genetic engineering will insure acceptance by the body, those in desperate need of organ and other transplants will one-day have their prayers answered by cloning. Using one?s own cells to grow whole organs will eliminate the need for organ donors and waiting lists. Skin, brain cells, hearts, lungs, livers, and kidneys could all be produced. Those who suffer from spinal injuries, like Christopher Reeve, might one day be able to get out of their wheelchairs and walk again.
Genetic engineering also has the power to cure infertility, which a painful reality that many couples throughout the world face. ?The current options for infertile couples are inefficient, painful, expensive, and heart breaking? (Human Cloning Foundation 1). Many couples run out of time and money without successfully having children. According to the Human Cloning Foundation, less than 10 percent of the current infertility treatments are successful. Genetic engineering could make it possible for many more infertile couples to have children than ever before by boosting success rates through nuclear transfer of sperm from the father into the mother?s egg, thus creating a beautiful unique child.
Even with all these miraculous benefits, many people throughout the world feel that the issue of genetic engineering is absolutely preposterous and extremely unethical. Such opinions are understandable, considering that the majority of people are always going to be afraid of the unknown. Genetic engineering is an extremely new aspect of our technological research and should, at all costs, be allowed to develop further. The immense possible benefits from genetic engineering are endless and should not be over looked. Yet, some people still wonder whether there ?are some kinds of information leading to some sorts of knowledge that human beings are really better off not having? (Thomas 2). Many arguments offered against genetic engineering, have been those such as “we would be playing the role of God” and “it is power that humans can not handle.” At one time birth control pills, in vitro fertilization, and heart transplants were criticized on the same grounds. Throughout time people have always been afraid of new technology and the power it might possess. When the car was first invented some contemporary scientists were convinced that the human body could not survive at speeds as high as twenty miles per hour.
Genetic engineering, then, is a tool that humans can use to cure many of their problems. The possibilities are endless if only we do not let ourselves be restricted by those who are afraid of the unknown.
Works CitedWhitman, Deborah B. ?Generically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?? April 2000. http://www.csa.com/hottopics/gmfood/oview.html(25 Oct. 2000).
Human Cloning Foundation. ?All the reasons to clone human beings.? January 2000 http://www.humancloning.org/allthe.htm (7 Nov. 2000)
Nelkin, Dorothy. ?The Grandiose Claims of Geneticists.? Chronicle of Higher Education March 3, 1993.