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Are Genetically Modified Organisms a good thing?

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Introduction

Are Genetically Modified Organisms a good thing? In order for geneticists to comprise one organism expressing certain beneficial characteristics from another, cross breeding of some kind has to take place. For centuries people have been cross breeding all kinds of organisms (mostly crops and animals) in order to develop these beneficial traits. However, nature has natural barriers protecting against non-sexually compatible species breeding and so for this sharing of characteristics to take place they have to insert DNA (often in modified form from that of the original species) directly into the chosen organism. The modified DNA then codes for a protein within the organism (different from its natural one) giving rise to a new (and hopefully beneficial) characteristic, which will then be expressed. Engineered organisms of this kind are said to be "genetically modified" or GM, but however they are referred to, the simple similarity between them all is that their DNA has been altered in some way for an advantage. The immediate advantages of genetic modification are, I think, quite obvious. Take for example, the genetic engineering of plants. With recent advances plants can now be inserted with genes (for instance a gene from a breed which is particularly resistant to wind) ...read more.

Middle

Even if not vegetarian, Jews and Muslims would oppose the introduction of pig genes in plants and Hindus would most certainly also oppose any gene enhancements involving cow genes. Some Christians too share strong views over the genetic modification of organisms. In principle they see this as an excessive and unacceptable manipulation of, and intervention in God's creation and a total violation of natures natural barriers. In the field of medicine there are more benefits to be found. Up until around the 1920's people diagnosed with diabetes were sure to live a short and painful life, as without the ability to create insulin their bodies were unable to control their blood-glucose levels. All that changed when it was discovered pig insulin could act as a very suitable alternative to the human hormone. The problem with pig insulin is although it did the job, it was not quite the same as human insulin and was also rather difficult to extract. More recently came genetic modification. A method of engineering the protein insulin in almost infinite volumes. The basic method involves inserting the human gene (a specific section of DNA that codes for a protein) ...read more.

Conclusion

We must not forget however about the possible unseen long-term effects of introducing previously foreign genes into the human food chain. More testing need be completed before a whole scale movement over to GM is initiated. Should this be completed and the results prove its safety then I cannot see any problem with the consumption of GM food. I'm sure if you are vegetarian there will still be sources of food available which are free from GM and I would make it a condition of the testing that cross-contamination is thoroughly examined before widespread use to ensure there is always a non-GM food supply in case any very long term problems arise. With regards the use of genetically engineered bacterium to produce life saving proteins for human medicinal use, I believe this should continue with constant research carried out to see if other useful proteins can be manufactured in this way. With the benefits this technology brings to sufferers of diabetes and patients suffering with other protein deficient diseases together with the fact no obvious problems arise (both to ourselves or our environment) from this practice I feel this is a wonderful advancement in modern science and medicine. In short I believe that genetically modified organisms are a good thing. ...read more.

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