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Do the Benefits of Genetic Engineering Outweigh any Potential Hazards?

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Introduction

Do the Benefits of Genetic Engineering Outweigh any Potential Hazards? Genetic engineering is an umbrella term which can cover a wide range of ways of changing the genetic material - the DNA code - in a living organism. Individual genes are particular sections of this chain, spaced out along it, which determine the characteristics and functions of our body. Defects of individual genes can cause a malfunction in the metabolism of the body, and are the roots of many "genetic" diseases. In commercial terms the reason for using genetically modified plants is simple- money. Today's economic world is driven by the quest for bigger profits, lower production costs and lower production time, all to which genetic engineering provides a positive answer. Wheale, P(1988) Other benefits also seem to exist. A plant programmed with resistance to locusts needs no pesticide against locusts. Some would hail this as wonderful because money is saved, as no pesticide is required. Although this seems like an immediate benefit we must look at the fact that a benefit to some is a danger to others. Due to the new plant a pesticide company may go out of business, making all its employees redundant. JOHN INNES CENTRE NORWICH Advantages Another novel product that is about to hit British supermarket shelves is the new 'straight' banana. ...read more.

Middle

Gene Testing/Engineering in Humans Gene testing already has dramatically improved lives. Some tests are used to clarify a diagnosis and direct a doctor toward appropriate treatments, while others allow families to avoid having children with devastating diseases or identify people at high risk for conditions that may be preventable. GENETICS FORUM (2001) Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Genetic information is being discovered at an increasingly remarkable pace. In some cases, however, not enough is known about the meaning of genetic information or how it is being interpreted and used. The risk of genetic discrimination grows as new disease susceptibility genes are identified. Carey GC. (2001) The privacy and confidentiality of genetic information, including questions of ownership and control of genetic information, and consent to disclosure and use of genetic information, questions of the fair use of genetic information (e.g., insurance, employment, the criminal justice system, the educational system, adoption, and the military). Some individuals are destined to lose. Although it is easy to negatively stereotype the lives of those born with genetic disabilities, ignoring the improved quality of life possible with adequate resources and support, few would deny that if the means to prevent certain disorders were available we should fully exploit them. Mae Wan Ho. (1998) The use of genetic tests in diagnosing future disorders is based on identifying the presence of a particular gene or genes associated with certain genetic conditions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Nutrients can be added to these crops resulting in a decrease in malnutrition in third world countries. Rice, the main staple in their diet, lacks the adequate amount of necessary nutrients to prevent malnutrition. Through genetic engineering these nutrients can be added to the rice. Through genetic engineering we would be able to grow organs for transplants. Therefore I believe that this would be beneficial because so many people are waiting for transplants and will never get them. By using genetic engineering as a way to grow organs no one has to wait for an organ, and someone won't have to die in order for a transplant to take place. By allowing research of genetic engineering to proceed, we will be able to learn more about the diseases that we have. Although I don't believe we should cure all genetic diseases. Instead use the information we acquire through genetic engineering to find ways to treat the disease. By eliminating these diseases it would cause an increase in the population. Even with genetically modified foods to feed the extra people in the population we only have so many regions suitable for people to live. Thus by eliminating these diseases we may increase the problem of overpopulation. I believe that the benefits of genetic engineering do outweigh the potential hazards but only in particular cases such as gene therapy. There does not seem a justification for genetically modified food as the benefits seem so small and the potential hazards are immeasurable, and cannot be quantified with any degree of confidence. ...read more.

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