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Discuss the benefits and concerns of genetic engineering.

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Introduction

´╗┐Discuss the benefits and concerns of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering, or genetic modification, is the process in which genes can be transferred to the cells of animals and plants, at an early state of their development, so they develop desired characteristics. First of all you take the desired gene from one organism, using enzymes to isolate the gene, and then transfer this gene to the genetic material of a completely different organism. The gene is inserted into a vector (usually a bacterial plasmid or a virus), and this vector is used to insert the gene into the different organism. This concept is used in insulin production, which is needed by people who suffer with diabetes. Genetic engineering has many potential advantages, such as being able to produce organisms with desired characteristics quickly, for example in plant laboratories, but on the other hand, it?s expensive, and there are potential risks, like the possibility of the plants mutating in a dangerous way. ...read more.

Middle

where people often lack nutrients in their diets - GM crops could be genetically engineered to contain nutrients they?re missing. ?Golden rice?, for example, has been created which contains a gene from carrots which encourages vitamin A production in the body. Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness or even death, and in some areas in LEDCs, it's fairly common. Outlined in the introduction, selective breeding involves taking out ?bad? genes to produce ideal offspring. It can be used with herds of dairy cattle; milk yields can be increased by selecting top form bulls and breeding them with cows that have displayed the best milk production. Selective breeding can also be used to modify other characteristics of cattle. As mentioned in the introduction, developments in genetic engineering have allowed actual human insulin to be produced on demand in the lab. Before this was possible, insulin was made from pigs, however it has a slightly different amino acid sequence, and some patients could not tolerate the fact it was from pigs. ...read more.

Conclusion

They say that genes are supposed to be left solely to natural selection, which is a fair point. Another recognised problem, related to selective breeding, is that it reduces the gene pool. Future generations of selectively bred organisms will all share very similar genes, and this could make the herd more liable to certain diseases. Also some genes would be lost making it more difficult to produce new varieties in the future. I believe that genetic engineering is a good thing, but only if it is moderated correctly. Admittedly, money is one of the major drivers of both selective breeding, and genetic engineering. If animal welfare and environmental standards are not to be compromised, research must be restricted and a counter-balancing ethical principle must be pushed forward to keep balance between profitability and ethicality. It can majorly increase crop yields, and genetic engineering, in my opinion is the key to solving things like world hunger, and malnutrition - the benefits outweigh the concerns. ...read more.

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