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Biology Coursework Essay

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Introduction

Anna Lester Biology Coursework Essay The benefits of, and peoples concerns about, the use of recombinant DNA technology. Humans have used plants and animals for thousands of years, adapting many things to suit their requirements. The process of artificial selection, whereby only the organisms with the best characteristics are allowed to breed, genetically changes these organisms. Recombinant DNA technology allows us much greater control over genetic manipulation. This can range from genetically engineered micro organisms, to genetically modified plants. In the former human genes can be inserted into bacteria and grown in fermenters. Which produces large quantities of human proteins such as insulin. Genetically modified plants can be made by transferring desirable genes from an organism to a crop plant. For example, maize has been produced which is resistant to drought. Human proteins, such as haemoglobin, and blood-clotting factors, are already produced in the milk of transgenic cows, goats and sheep, due to the genetic modification of animals. Human gene therapy involves inserting a 'normal' gene into someone's body to correct a genetic disorder. For example severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) leaves some people with almost no functioning immune system. The symptoms can, however, be cured by inserting copies of a gene coding for the enzyme adenosine deaminase (ADA) ...read more.

Middle

from which to pick and choose the most lethal combinations." (New Scientist 25th January 2003.) This again shows the ease with which information on bio weapons can be obtained. Genes for herbicide resistance are inserted into crop plants in order for these crops to survive when strong herbicides are sprayed onto crops. There are concerns that this resistance gene may be able to spread from crop plants to closely related species of weeds, creating an "invincible superweed". "More than two-thirds of conventional crops in the United States are now contaminated with genetically modified material - dooming organic agriculture and posing a severe future risk to health." (Geoffrey Lean) This type of weed control obviously encourages the extensive use of herbicides, for which we know none of the long-term effects on soil, organisms or humans. "British Scientists delivered a massive blow to the case for genetically modified crops yesterday when they showed in a trail-blazing study that growing them could harm the environment." (Michael McCarthy) Most of the research into the development of crops is often carried out by the companies producing the chemicals. Extensive chemical use would obviously be financially beneficial to those companies although dependence on chemicals, requiring large quantities of energy to produce, are not practical in the long run due to their finite supply. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe this is morally wrong, as altering nature in humans may have many unpredictable results. On a large scale, a super race could be formed leaving natural society as a lower class. On a smaller scale, would these GM humans have a strict drug regime? If so, what would the effect of this be on their mental and physical state? How would the expense effect the already over-stretched NHS? It also reminds some people of programmes throughout history to eradicate less dominant ethnic groups. Parents often face a dilemma after foetus screening, of whether to abort a baby with a genetic disorder. It will become possible to screen adults for genes that predispose them to genetic disorders. This might lead insurance companies to discriminate against people with these disorders, even though they are in perfect health. "A person "at risk" for Huntington's is automatically rejected for health insurance. The cost of a genetic screening for the disease is about $5,000 and is a very emotionally stressful procedure." Says Cissy Bennett. There are many concerns over recombinant DNA, but measures are being taken to contain some of the risks as more people become aware of them. Although it is obvious, some factors will remain a threat to the human race and its environment as long as research is continued regarding recombinant DNA. ...read more.

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