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Benefits and Restraints of Genetic Engineering and the Use of Recombinant DNA.

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Introduction

Benefits and Restraints of Genetic Engineering and the Use of Recombinant DNA Genetic engineering and recombinant DNA have many useful purposes which benefit humans in many different ways in many different fields. The latest bio-technological breakthroughs allow the use of recombinant or 'mixed' DNA to be used more and more and in increasingly safer conditions. However there are still many problems and restrictions with using recombinant DNA such as side-effects or long term changes and the effect a new characteristic will have on its surrounding environment, be it the human body or a whole environmental ecosystem. Whilst genetic engineering has been beneficial in many ways increasing plant yields or improving human health, the statement, "The use of recombinant DNA can only benefit humans", can be discussed and in almost all situations it is found not to be true as discussed below. Genetic engineering is used frequently in the agricultural industry for many purposes :- For resistance to disease such tobacco mosaic viruses or potato blight. ...read more.

Middle

In addition to this, some weeds may develop a resistance to the herbicide and will therefore be very hard to control. Producing genetic characteristics such as producing the insecticide may damage harmless ecosystems, for example pollen containing the genetic information is blown from an insecticide producing crop to a non-insecticide producing crop which feeds a harmless insect. As the normal plant produces the insecticide due to the new pollen the insects feeding from it will die. This was the case for caterpillars in 1998 when milkweed was contaminated with pollen from corn. On top of this, the insects that do need killing may develop a resistance to the Bt protein thus making the insecticide ineffective. From a more general perspective, food chains may be affected with any of the situations described above, as crop yields are increased there is more food for primary consumers and therefore secondary consumers will increase and may eat more of different primary consumers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead of this retroviruses can be grown in cultures of the patients liver tissue, resulting in the tissue inheriting the correct DNA coding for the alpha-1 antitrypsin. Adenoviruses are very efficient in inserting the vector, but cause toxic side affects, whereas liposomes have less side effects but aren't as successful at inserting. The problem with retroviruses is that the cells must be actively dividing for the operation to be successful and most human liver and lung cells are not, and so have to be forced to do so, which is harmful to the patient. (1,3) So it becomes clear that gene therapy is not as simple and successful as it may at first seem, as was the case with genetic engineering in agriculture. In conclusion, I think that genetic engineering and the use of recombinant DNA can be very successful and helpful to humans as long as the implications are considered and as humans we are not guided by the greed for money without considering the consequences. ...read more.

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