Genetic Engineering: The Future Of Mankind? Essay, Research Paper
Genetic engineering, the transfer of genetic material from one organism to another, is often a hot topic of debate among scientists and the general public alike; yet, what is the controversy behind this ground breaking medical procedure? Although the procedure, in its numerous forms, could greatly benefit society in many ways, the ethics of the whole idea have many concerned. Types of Genetic EngineeringThere are several types of genetic engineering and they all vary slightly in the technique and the results. The first is natural selection, in which humans play no controlling role. The most powerful and fit organisms compete with others to survive in the circle of life. Although this method is, by far, the slowest, it allows the truly fit to survive and allows organisms to evolve and adapt to their changing environments naturally. Particular genes, which are characteristics in the form of chemical messages passed down from generation to generation, called transposable elements, move around the functional parts of the genes to maximize the likelihood to creating better genes in the organisms. This has proven to be effective, a prime example being the evolution of homo sapiens. The next type of genetic engineering is known as selective breeding, which is man s basic attempt at genetic engineering. This is done by selecting a few humans with certain characteristics to breed, therefore, resulting in desired characteristics found in the offspring. The technical aspect of this particular process are simple. Parents could produce a large number of fertilized eggs through in vitro fertilization. The eggs would be grown in vitro and then examined for specific traits. Then, the parents could pick an egg with the desired characteristics to be implanted into the mother s womb. However, this method does have its drawbacks. For example, it is extremely difficult to find an egg with a large number of desired characteristics. For this specific reason, some may choose to consider genetic manipulations instead. Genetic manipulations and gene therapy are also another part of genetic engineering, and has proved to be very useful. These methods involve bringing desired genetic materials into an existing cell or organism, rather than creating a brand new cell, or altering the genes inside the cells. For example, defective genes which are in use in a tissue can be corrected with gene therapy. Finally, the last form of genetic engineering is creating completely new genes and organisms. Cloning is included in this section, as new embryos are created from existing cells. Genetic scientists now understand the genetic code and have the power to create different proteins, yet creating then for a specific purpose within an organism is something that hasn t been grasped yet. Further research in this field is being done and more is being learned about mixing and matching the components of proteins and organisms. How it s Done-The BasicsDNA is a two strands of molecule wound around one another. A gene is a segment of the DNA strand that codes for a particular protein, which play very important roles in the daily function of a human body. The either help with the bodies structure, or with physiological, an example of which is hemaglobin which carries oxygen throughout the blood. The complex DNA code is translated into amino acid patterns in proteins for the body to use, by RNAs, which are single stranded molecules. The DNA molecule is unravelled and the cell makes a copy of the relevant part, in the form of RNA s. How it s Done-The Specifics Cloning is the process of creating a new organism from pre-existing cells from another organism. The process itself is fairly straight-forward, although it was a scientific breakthrough which took years to perfect. The procedure is, generally, as follows:1. Remove cells from the human to be cloned.2. Grow the cells until there is a sufficient amount.3. Place the cells into a minimal media where the cells will stop dividing and will enter quiescence, which is when the cells lose the differentiality and become totipotent. 4. Remove the nucleus from an unfertilized human egg cell.5. Implant one of the quiescent cells in the coat around the egg.6. Electroshock the egg, which will induce the fusion of the two cells. 7. Create several clones, as many of them will not survive due to various reasons, such as cellular damage.8. Allow the embryos to grow and divide.9. Implant the embryos in human mothers.Genetic manipulations can be done in a few different ways. It generally involves the transfer of genetic material from one organism to another. The transfer then forms recombinant DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), which is the attachment of a piece of DNA from one organism to another, followed by the insertion of the hybrid molecule into an organism. Scientists isolate desired molecules of DNA from cells, then segments of DNA in the receiving cell are broken so that the new segments can be inserted.
What is all the Controversy About? Why has genetic engineering caused such an uproar of various public opinions? The ethical issues behind this exciting scientific process have been probed by many, and the pros and cons have been argued. Does the positive effects outweigh the negative ones? Arguments for continued genetic engineering research include:-Cloning research can add to the understanding of genetics, which could lead to the creation of animal organs that could be used by humans. This would mean organs would be available to all those in need.-Parents with certain illnesses or defects could prevent passing it on to their child. A fertilized egg would be cloned, then tested for defects. If none were to be found on the clone, then the original would be implanted in the mother.-Cloning, then repairing, of damaged tissue could be done.-New types of antibiotics can be, and have been, created to help humans.-In the future, cloning could be used to reverse heart attacks, treat infertility, avoid Down s syndrome, cure kidney failure, leukemia, cystic fibrosis, and even cancer. While the supporters continue to think of new advantages of genetic engineering, the critics are also very keen to observe the drawbacks of the process. They argue that:-Genetic engineering would reduce the variability of humans, or could create different classes. People would attempt to make their offspring better in every way possible, and those that can t afford to have the process done would have natural children, creating a significant social gap between people in society.-Genetic engineering would interfere with the natural process of evolution and would throw it off balance.-The success rate of many of the processes is low, approximately 3%, and would cost a significant amount of money for every attempt. For example, the cloning of the sheep, Dolly, was an expensive project which took 277 tries. The Future of Genetic Engineering The future of this field is yet uncertain and limitless. Research could result in disease treatment by allowing doctors to reprogram cloned cells. Genetic manipulation of all genes in human eggs could become reality, and the perfect human could be born. DNA coding could be changed with the replacement of the current amino acids with different ones. Organisms could be formed without DNA, RNA, or protein. The possibilities are endless, which is why some are skeptical and concerned. This field is extremely tricky. If the public agrees to one form of genetic engineering, why not all of them? Genetic engineering, therefore, could get out of hand and run into severe problems. My Views I believe that genetic engineering is a useful process which mankind should utilize for our advantage to a certain extent. It should be used to create organs for those who need organ transplants so that they don t die while waiting for a donor. As for clones, I don t think that should be done on human tissues, with two exceptions. One, to screen embryos from a particular disease which the parents fear they may pass on to their offspring; and two, to cure diseases such as leukemia and cancer. The rest of it should just be left up to fate. We shouldn t focus on creating a perfect race. Wouldn t that be racist then, going back to Adolf Hitler s policy of racial hygiene and the Holocaust? We should let natural evolution carry on, without disturbance. However, I m afraid that once some types of genetic engineering become common, what s to stop the rest of it from becoming a reality? Also, if the information gets into the wrong hands, or if it is dealt with improperly, mutations could begin and chaos could occur. Therefore, perhaps genetic engineering shouldn t be pursued at all, yet it seems like a waste to throw away such valuable information we have to further our positions in the circle of life. Final Notes Genetic engineering is an amazing scientific breakthrough, yet much more fine-tuning and research is needed, as well as thought in regards to how this precious information should be dealt with. The controversy surrounding it is enormous, there are many scientific reasons as to why it should and should not be done, as well as many ethical reasons which can argue both sides as well. There are no easy answers in this scenario and so humans must wait and see what happens. Will genetic engineering become the future of mankind? Only time will tell.