Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering


Genetic engineering refers to the processes involved in making alterations to the genetics of foods, of animals, and of humans. 


To achieve these alterations, techniques such as molecular transformation and molecular cloning are used. 


Basically, genetic engineering is about making modifications to or adding to an organism’s DNA.


While there are a variety of serious concerns about genetic engineering with regards to the end results, there are, likewise, numerous sizable benefits.


So which is better?

To continue with genetic engineering in the hope that those concerns will dissipate over the years, or to call a halt to this side of science and hope that everyone forgets about it?


I suspect the former. 


“I suspect any worries about genetic engineering may be unnecessary. Genetic mutations have always happened naturally, anyway.”

– James Lovelock (English scientist and environmentalist who is responsible for the proposal of the Gaia hypothesis.)




Advantages of Genetic Engineering



1  Want to live longer?


We already live far longer than we did only 100 years ago. 


This is because of the advances made in medical science.


However, to advance these, erm… advances even further, well… genetic engineering could make it happen. 


Genetic engineering has the “power” to alter some of the most basic reasons as to why, at cellular level, the human body declines naturally. 


Take global warming. 


Since humans have been resident on our planet, the climate has gone through dramatic changes. 


Being reliant on evolution, in normal circumstances, humans take many thousands of years to adapt to dramatic climactic changes. 


But, if we become more reliant on genetic engineering, these adaptations will be far quicker and far better. 



2  Production of new and novel foods


Already, we are using the principles of genetic engineering to “remanufacture” foods in the form of agricultural crops.


These agricultural crops are now far more capable of withstanding extremes in temperatures, extremes in drought, and extremes of other environmental “problems.” 


Added to that – these crops are far richer in important nutrients because of genetic engineering. 


Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia to highlight just how beneficial genetic engineering has been to agricultural crops:


In 2014, the largest review yet concluded that GM crops’ effects on farming were positive. The meta-analysis considered all published English-language examinations of the agronomic and economic impacts between 1995 and March 2014 for three major GM crops: soybean, maize, and cotton. The study found that herbicide-tolerant crops have lower production costs, while for insect-resistant crops the reduced pesticide use was offset by higher seed prices, leaving overall production costs about the same.[3][96]

Yields increased 9% for herbicide tolerance and 25% for insect resistant varieties. Farmers who adopted GM crops made 69% higher profits than those who did not. The review found that GM crops help farmers in developing countries, increasing yields by 14 percentage points.



3  Diseases are defeated


Human disease is rife, even well into the 21st century. 


Along comes genetic engineering to the rescue…


As an example, cystic fibrosis, a common worldwide disease, has no available cure. 


As it happens, however, through genetic engineering, cystic fibrosis could be completely eradicated. 



4  Eradicating illness in unborn and young children


Even prior to the time that a child is born, it’s possible to determine a variety of problems.


While a fetus is still inside the womb, a doctor is able to tell if, after the fetus is born, it will suffer from Down’s syndrome for from sickle cell anemia. 


Now, it’s definite progress that a specialist can pinpoint such diseases well before a child is born. However, what if we had the ability to ensure that all children were born free of such problems?


Along comes genetic engineering. 


Through genetic engineering, all children would be born completely healthy.


Further, with genetic engineering, it’s now possible to ensure that a parent that suffers from a degenerative disease does not pass the disease onto their children. 


As an example of this: Huntington’s disease. If you, as an adult, have Huntington’s disease, there’s a 50/50 chance that, if you have children, they will inherit the disease from you.


But it doesn’t stop there.


Even if your children do not “inherit” the disease from you, there’s a high possibility that they will be carriers. 


In both cases, genetic engineering can halt Huntington’s disease in its tracks completely. 





Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering


1  Limitations on diversity of genetic makeup


Diversity is required in all species. 


Through genetic engineering, though, genetic diversity is open to abuse.


If you want to live in a world of clones where we all look the same and think the same, then look to genetic engineering as to how it’s possible to achieve.


Adolf Hitler wanted something similar. 



2  Genetically modified defects


Is it actually safe to make alterations at the cellular level?


While science has come on leaps and bounds in the past 100 years or so, it still remains that scientists do not yet fully understand the workings of the human body.


Given this, it’s not possible to fully understand what will occur should very slight alterations are made to human DNA.


Questions need to be asked:

What will happen if we do, in fact, manage to successfully eradicate one disease to then introduce something that is completely new and far more dangerous?


The human body is a complex beast. 


Scientists have no way of predicting the effects their actions will have. 



3  Is genetic engineering the right thing to do?


At the advent of genetic engineering, when it was initially proven to be possible to achieve, the immediate reaction was “is this right?”


Many people, particularly those of a more religious persuasion, claimed that genetic engineering was “trying to play God.”


Other than the religious perspective, ethical objections do still exist. 


The argument being that disease is here for a reason, and has always been here for a reason. 


If we were to eradicate all disease, the planet would quickly become overpopulated, if it isn’t already.


So, the overall argument is that if we persist with genetic engineering, we can’t possibly predict the problems that will be caused because of it.



4  Will genetic engineering go too far?


While the vast majority of scientists invest their time using genetic engineering with the very best of intentions, what will happen if a handful of scientists opt not to utilize genetic engineering for the betterment of the human race?


Is it right and is it fair to start engineering people’s hair color, people’s eye color, people’s level of intelligence?


Is it right to ensure the sex of a child? For example, in countries such as China and India, the two most populated countries on the planet, the preference is to have a boy. 


Is it right that there’s a definitive certainty that when you have a child it will be a boy?


Is playing with nature actually a safe thing to do?


There are many questions asked; there are many answers still unknown.

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