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Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering

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Introduction

Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering Introduction The first step to understanding genetic engineering and embracing its possibilities for society is to obtain a rough knowledge base of its history and method. The basis for altering the evolutionary process is dependant on the understanding of how individuals pass on characteristics to their offspring. Genetics achieved its first foothold on the secrets of nature's evolutionary process when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel developed the first "laws of heredity." Using these laws, scientists studied the characteristics of organisms for most of the next one hundred years following Mendel's discovery. These early studies concluded that each organism has two sets of character determinants, or genes. For instance, in regards to eye colour, a child could receive one set of genes from his or her father that were encoded one blue, and the other brown. The same child could also receive two brown genes from his or her mother. The conclusion for this inheritance would be the child has a three in four chance of having brown eyes, and a one in four chance of having blue. Genes are transmitted through chromosomes which reside in the nucleus of every living organism's cells. Each chromosome is made up of fine strands of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. The information carried on the DNA determines the cells function within the organism. Sex cells are the only cells that contain a complete DNA map of the organism, therefore, "the structure of a DNA molecule or combination of DNA molecules determines the shape, form, and function of the [organism's] offspring . ...read more.

Middle

Throughout the centuries disease has plagued the world, forcing everyone to take part in a virtual "lottery with the agents of death". Whether viral or bacterial in nature, such disease are currently combated with the application of vaccines and antibiotics. These treatments, however, contain many unsolved problems. The difficulty with applying antibiotics to destroy bacteria is that natural selection allows for the mutation of bacteria cells, sometimes resulting in mutant bacterium which is resistant to a particular antibiotic. This indestructible bacterial pestilence wages havoc on the human body. Genetic engineering is conquering this medical dilemma by utilizing diseases that target bacterial organisms. These diseases are viruses, named bacteriophages, "which can be produced to attack specific disease-causing bacteria". Much success has already been obtained by treating animals with a "phage" designed to attack the E. coli bacteria. Current medical capabilities allow for the transplant of human organs, and even mechanical portions of some, such as the battery powered pacemaker. Current science can even re-apply fingers after they have been cut off in accidents, or attach synthetic arms and legs to allow patients to function normally in society. But would not it be incredibly convenient if the human body could simply re-grow what it needed, such as a new kidney or arm? Genetic engineering can make this a reality. Currently in the world, a single plant cell can differentiate into all the components of an original, complex organism. ...read more.

Conclusion

Scientists have also devised other methods of preventing bacteria from escaping their labs, such as modifying the bacteria so that it will die if it is removed from the laboratory environment. This creates a shield of complete safety for the outside world. It is also thought that if such bacteria were to escape it would act like smallpox or anthrax and ravage the land. However, laboratory-created organisms are not as competitive as pathogens. Davis and Roche sum it up in extremely laymen's terms, "no matter how much Frostban you dump on a field, it's not going to spread". In fact Frostbran, developed by Steven Lindow at the University of California, Berkeley, was sprayed on a test field in 1987 and was proven by a RAC committee to be completely harmless. Fear of the unknown has slowed the progress of many scientific discoveries in the past. The thought of man flying or stepping on the moon did not come easy to the average citizens of the world. But the fact remains, they were accepted and are now an everyday occurrence in our lives. Genetic engineering is in its period of fear and misunderstandifng, but like every great discovery in history, it will enjoy its time of realization and come into full use in society. The world is on the brink of the most exciting step into human evolution ever, and through knowledge and exploration, should welcome it and its possibilities with open arms. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a well researched report that covers a wide range of aspects surrounding genetic engineering.
1. The sources of information need to be referenced and an indication method needs to be used.
2. Be careful with language as several unsubstantiated claims are made.
3. The conclusion should be at the end of the report.
4. The source of quotes should be included.
****

Marked by teacher Luke Smithen 16/07/2013

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