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The Use of Recombinant DNA Technology Can Only Benefit Humans - "Recombinant DNA is DNA that has been mixed with that of another species"

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Introduction

The Use of Recombinant DNA Technology Can Only Benefit Humans "Recombinant DNA is DNA that has been mixed with that of another species" The development of recombinant DNA technology is, in biological terms a very recent discovery. It was founded in 1973 by Cohen and Boyer, the first two scientists to successfully transplant a section of DNA from one bacterium and insert it into another using restriction enzymes, creating the first transgenic organism1. As with every biological discovery the most pertinent question is, who or what can it benefit? The use of recombinant DNA technology is undoubtedly of huge medical and industrial benefit to humans. It facilitates the use of bacteria to rapidly produce enzymes, proteins and hormones needed to cure illness or for use in vaccination. It also allows the development of a faster more reliable alternative to the artificial selection used by farmers in the past to improve stock and so provide economic benefits to humans. More radically there are possibilities to alter antigens on animal organs to enable them to be transplanted into humans. It is therefore true that humans will be large benefactors of this new technology. However, the human race is essentially a mammalian species, and so surely the vaccinations and other medical advances can be applied to a large range of other mammals.

Middle

However, with the use of genetic markers it is becoming easier to produce proteins, hormones and enzymes using bacteria. This has in a number of cases given rise to the production of large quantities of relatively cheap vaccinations for use in veterinary medicine. Such vaccinations have been used not only in agriculture and other animal industries (which would mainly benefit humans), but also for the care of both domesticated pets and endangered species. Hence, despite research costs, it is not only humans who are benefiting from recombinant DNA technology. A survey carried out in 1997 for New Scientist magazine claimed that of all the currently practiced uses for recombinant DNA technology, 58% were medical, agricultural or food processing uses (i.e. for human benefit), 5% were used for environmental benefits (i.e. for cleaning contaminated land to protect wildlife) and 37% were put to "other" uses including animal care and preservation of endangered species. So, it is seemingly proven that recombinant DNA technology does not only benefit humans, but can benefit other organisms and indeed whole ecosystems. There are ethical issues that both support and undermine the title of this essay. There are suggestions that because of moral disagreements, this technology should be saved only for medical use, and not be used for other reasons, which would directly prevent any other species from benefiting.

Conclusion

This is a currently a major stumbling block in the potential human benefit recombinant DNA technology could provide. It would seem that much evidence exists to suggest that the sphere of recombinant DNA technology is vast and beneficial to not only a diverse range of species but also a multitude of ecosystems. However, still very much in its infancy, it seems that recombinant DNA technology will only currently be used if it is of medical, economical or social benefit to humans. Ironically for all other species of animal that can, but for the moment do not, benefit from this technology, it seems that only by using other organisms can humans benefit. In conclusion, I believe that given all the evidence it is a little narrow-minded to believe that in the long run the only benefactors of recombinant DNA technology will be humans. However, until sufficient research and testing has been accomplished I do feel that humans will certainly form the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries. It would seem contradictory to thousands of years of evolutionary theory if humans did not use their discoveries primarily for their own benefit. Perhaps it is a good thing if, until this technology is fully proven to be safe, we do keep it to ourselves.

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