Genetic Engineering: Designer Babies

Abstract

The main purpose of this paper is to highlight more on the current developments and research as far as genetic engineering is concerned. The paper is aiming at elaborating the social-economic benefits of biotechnology in scientific development and the impact on human nature.

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Human aspect as it pertains to genetically engineering

Human is the intellectual knowledge and the ability to use language and non-verbal communications such as using gestures, signs and other know-how in order to come up with results that are economically and financially essential to man’s development.

Genetic Engineering

This is the modification and alteration of organisms through biotechnologies. This involves use of DNA technology methods such as mutation to come up with a product that has positive results economically, socially and politically. These outcomes include cloning various plants that can grow faster, easily adapt to hot climatic conditions and plants that are resistant to both pests and diseases.

Biotechnology and genetic engineering apply to animals. This calls for genetic alteration of animals’ genetic make-up in order to raise animals that can resist diseases, animals that can produce more meat than before, animals that can produce more milk, wool etc than before.

The use of DNA mixture or recombinants of genes facilitates the production of modified organisms. This is achieved by addition of a foreign genetic component to another organism genome. This leads to production of a new character or features that are genetically engineered.

Scientific Development

These are the current undertakings that are involved in technological development and research. Some of the current developments include use of recombinant DNA technology. This is artificial or non-natural combination of different DNA molecules from foreign tissues, organs or cells into a single molecule to come up with a new gene. This engineered gene is then injected or transferred into another organism’s gene so that it can express the new traits.

The technology of combining or mixing genes from various organisms in order to come up with transgenic is known as recombinant DNA technology. Some of the genetically engineered products include some vaccines, drugs, medicines, corns, wheat and food ingredients, fruits, animal feeds and fibers.

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Introduction

The main purpose of engineering organisms and use of biotechnology is to come up with more improved organisms that can meet the deemed advantages to the scientists. However, these modifications of organisms can result to both positive and negative outcomes. Since the advantages of genetic engineering are higher than the disadvantages, scientists have the courage to continue in developing more technologies that have got social-economic benefits to man and the entire world of business. This allows scientists to continue with daily application of biotechnology.

Biotechnology requires use of living organisms such as small plants, large plants, bacteria and all kinds of animals. Some of the frequently modified products are Soya beans, maize, bananas; organic cotton etc.This makes them be resistant to pests and harmful herbicides besides being more adaptive to climatic conditions. Runners such as sweet potatoes are modified or engineered to resist virus. Cereals such as rice and other grasses are modified through addition of vitamins and iron.

Aims

To examine the social-economic outcomes of the current developments as far as genetic engineering is concerned.

To carry out a research on the benefits and disadvantages of using biotechnology

Methods used to carry out the research

  • Sub problem one
    • Who are the victims of genetically modified organisms or have you ever been a victim of genetically modified organisms?
  • Sub problem two
    • Does the application of genetically modified organisms have adverse effects to the society at large?
  • Sub problem three
    • Does continuous use of genetically modified organisms threaten the co-existence of nature and humankind?

Methodology

In order to have a statistical data on the current developments of genetic engineering I decided to carry out a research on the victims of genetically engineered products locally in the society that included scientists, farmers, businessmen and women, scholars, religious leaders and finally the politicians. The procedure was that I had to prepare a questionnaire for interviewing the targeted group. Furthermore, I had to enquire from the recorded data and other sources about the effects of biotechnology. I had to confirm the outcomes by cross-checking the gathered information with the sources’ information. The main aim of this research was to get the sociological, economic, and philosophical impacts associated with biotechnology.

Findings (responds to the above sub-problems and the research outcomes)

According to the statistical data that was collected, after targeting peasant farmers, businessmen and women, scientists that included biotechnologists, zoologists, human right activists and the politicians,

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The following benefits and disadvantages were realized after carrying out a research that covered almost more than six groups who were open to give out their view.

Findings (responds to the above sub-problems and the research outcomes)

Thesis

The current development of biotechnology and other technologies have caused the change in biodiversity and the integrity of human kind. If this continuous use of biotechnology proceeds, the nature of human being can be altered together with the other creatures due to mixture of genes from different organisms. This eventually would lead to eradication of some species or can move human society from human to post human stage of adventures.

Thesis

Advantages and Disadvantages of Current Developments

Benefits

It was discovered that the main benefit of genetically tailored organisms is that this biotechnology leads to improved plants and animal’s health. This is achieved through appropriate diagnostic means that are friendly to the ecosystem. Some of the current developments include innovation of bio-herbicides and bio-insecticides that have little effect to the environment. Therefore, the integrity of the environment is preserved as new and more innovative methods are applied scientifically.

Again, this technology leads to conservation of soil, water, and energy since the produced genetically modified organisms are quite economical in terms of climatic conditions. That is they grow faster, they are resistant to diseases and pests, these plants can grow in arid areas where little water is needed. All these factors lead to increased food security especially in poor countries. This is a big advantage economically and socially since human beings can interact socially as they import and export these products.

For example, genetically modified seeds are introduced in remote areas where the occupants benefit from them since they can resist harsh climatic conditions, they can resist pesticides and pests. This makes the peasant farmers to rely fully on those products especially if they are financially unstable to meet some of the expenses. Some of these expenses include buying pesticides, irrigating their crops if there is drought etc.

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Again businessmen benefit by importing and exporting genetically modified organisms to the countries where labeling is not introduced. Biotechnology itself is an investment whereby the scientists engage on discovering new methods and technologies to fetch money.

When it comes to plants, the genetically engineered crops have pleasant taste and improved quality. These plants have got short periods of maturity time, therefore they can grow faster. These are good qualities that make more people and politicians to have control on such products. Products with pleasant taste would engage businessmen because they know that consumers would go for them. Another advantage is that these plants have some vitamins added, have higher yield compared to the native plants, they are stress tolerant and have high resistance to diseases, pests and herbicides. Therefore all these factors lead to the benefit of farmers and the environment at large.

On the other hand, animals that are genetically engineered also benefit. As mentioned earlier, this is through increased resistance to diseases, high milk, wool, eggs and meat production. These animals can easily adapt to harsh climatic conditions.

This technology is aimed at improving the well-being of human being socially and economically. This includes improved diagnosis of various diseases, for example, a gene encoding a certain protein can be extracted from a fish and inserted in mammalian genome to help in identification of a similar protein encoded by the targeted gene. This is of vital role in scientific research in mechanisms and behaviors of certain diseases in human beings.[1]

Disadvantages of Biotechnologies

After carrying a thorough research on the consequences of biotechnology, it was realized that it is not always safe to test these organisms practically. Some of the genetically modified products have adverse effects to the consumers. In this case the consumers are human beings, animals and plants. The environment that surrounds man is still affected.

Human health impact

The human nature is highly affected by this technology. This is because what is initially human is modified and aggregated into another thing that is not fully human. Take for example when a human being has inserted foreign organisms in his body scientifically (recombinant DNA technology).When it comes to human beings, there is a human health impact. This includes development of hypersensitivity and other allergens (Jonathan P.1994).

Drugs, hormones and antibodies used in this technology have adverse effects which lead to animal stress. This is well recognized in poultry. Some hormones or antibodies injected to these birds e.g. broilers causes the birds to have certain queer characteristics or behaviors. Slight excitement to these birds would lead to massive death. Vaccines innovated from attenuated bacteria or microbes may have adverse effects to the animals. According to this research, it was realized that biotechnologically invented vaccines can cause or initiate growth of cancerous cells both in animals and human beings.

Cross-pollination upshot

Another finding is that no one can control pollination; therefore, chances of cross-pollination and mixing of unintended genes can easily occur. For example, farmers complained of this effect whereby in cross-pollination, there is relocation of antibiotic resistance signals through different kinds of cross-pollination. This can lead to unknown sound effects on other organisms. This is because pollen grains can be transported over wide areas by vectors such as wind, animals, and insects.

In creeping bentgrass, a research shows that engineered genes were discovered in normal grass meaning that cross-pollination can lead to non intended mixture of genes. This finding was reinforced by hearing a case pending in court whereby one farmer had sued another because of introducing genetically modified organisms in his farm. This was not an intentional case but it was due to cross-pollination.

Environmental hazards

After the research, it was found that some of the developed technologies have environmental impacts e.g. biotechnology and bio-magnifications mechanisms. Environmental hazards involve any negative impact to the environment that is caused by man in the line of scientific work and medicine in general. These would be direct or indirect impacts which later are harmful to the livings. Environmental hazards include biomagnifications and other effects of persistent organic pollutants. It is known that some genetically modified seeds require certain chemicals for them to germinate; these chemicals are harmful to the soil and soil life.

Again, this raises a political quagmire whereby the dominating countries control the market by ensuring that genetically modified seeds must use specific chemicals for them to germinate. Therefore, farmers must depend on the pioneers for their survival.

Furthermore, some countries like Europe ban importations of genetically modified organisms and they do not allow testing to be done in their countries. My research indicates that testing is mostly done in African countries where they aspire to benefits from the outcomes but they tend to ignore the demerits. Some countries want biotechnology to continue but they indirectly fail to support it in some areas. Therefore, the problem is left with the primitive consumers who do not want to know what they are consuming due to illiteracy or excessive hunger and poverty.

Continuous uses of these chemicals pose a threat to the aquatic creatures when they get into the water through drainage. Things like fishes absorb these chemicals, and some might be harmful. Later man and other predators would eat them, and in the process biomagnifications results. Since genetically engineered products are highly reliable, some flora and fauna may be ignored or eliminated in the process due to overdependence on these genetically modified products (Environmental activist Prof. Wangari Mathai, 2008).

Cross-pollination by wind or insects might lead to mixing of genes between genetically modified plants and natural plants or some genetically modified plants might regenerate to uncontrollable level. Again inbreeding among the animals is another factor of concern. The consequences of inbreeding are known to produce undesirable characters. These eventually might lead to lack of proper preservation of biodiversity. This effect of losing natural habitat would be felt later in the near future. Some products of this biotechnology are non-biodegradable or take long time to be recycled due to their inpallatability character. This poses a major threat to the environment and biodiversity at large.

Industrialization and use of advanced technology have some negative impacts on the environment. This raises socio-economic protocols. For example the KYOTO protocol was signed in Japan by the countries that are dedicated to minimizing air pollution and the effects of greenhouse gases (Kyoto Protocol, 2001). This actually raised political debate by the pressurized countries due to the socio-economic aspect of global warming and other consequences caused by genetic engineering mechanisms. This include global warming and pollution of both water and soil e.g. greenhouses that are used for the growing of genetically engineered flowers require human control for the temperature, water and minerals.

After a period of time, soil habitant and ecosystem becomes altered or ruined due to chemical mixture that is caused by genetically engineered mechanisms. Some soil organisms cannot tolerate that living condition. This was reinforced by agriculturists experts who said several chemicals that are associated with the germination of genetically modified seeds are detected in the soil and nearby streams or rivers (Farmers lab, 2008). Interference with the environment to some extent can lead to climatic conditions that are not favorable for the growth of enough food for the future generations hence food insecurity. It is important that this technology should hold for the future food security with minimum threat for both living things and environment at large. This is a social problem that needs human intervention globally.

Losses of natural biodiversity

Loss of natural biodiversity can easily result due to genetic pollution through alteration of specific genes as scientists try to engineer the organisms. Cross-pollination is a good example of this whereby gradual recombinant of these genes can lead to loss of indigenous plants.

In hybridization, native organisms are used, with gradual use and modification of such organisms, indigenous organisms with greater resistance to diseases and pests can lose the sense. For example, indigenous breeds evolved and adapted to local climatic conditions over a long time with high resistance to diseases etc. Currently, they have already become extinct or might become extinct in the near future. Due to this genetic contamination, large part of gene pools of various flora and fauna have been distorted. This causes much genetic wearing down and genetic contamination leading to great loss of genetic range and biodiversity.

Overdependence and exploitation political wise

Due to the need to create dependency, manufacturers of these plants ensure continuous reliance of new engineered products. This is achieved through generation of first crops that would give rise to nonviable seeds in the second generation. Again, the firms e.g. Delta and Pine Land owning these plants require farmers to buy specific chemicals that would induce germination to reactivate the genetic traits and growth of GM crops. The purpose of doing this is to limit the distribution of genetically modified plants and to maintain market.

Ethical and moral issues

Ethical and moral issues involve rules of conduct that govern the progress toward the study of scientific work and research as it pertains to biota and the environment, its effects and consequences in life and medicine (Sherlock and John Moray 2007).

Here several questions arise whether do genetically engineered products solve the problems of food security or whether these products’ demerits outweigh the merits. It is unethical for the Christians to alter God’s creation. It is believed that God’s creation is good and should not be tampered with so Christians did not support this issue of genetically modified organisms. This really contradicted the self-being of humankind.

Some cultural beliefs of African duos condone this technology. How comes that genetically modified products that cannot be bitten or eaten by pests are edible to man. Many consumers said that feared eating genetically modified vegetables because even caterpillars could not consume them and if they did, they died. They believed that caterpillars are good indicators of poisoned or altered things. It is known that some companies will patent and own gm products’ life forms. This is unethical since they just manipulate with natural life.

Actually it is against the biblical teaching to alter the nature. It is unethical for Christians to interfere with God’s creation. Through engineering of organisms, there is violation and change of original value of natural organisms. Modification of organisms is tampering with nature by mixing genes among species. This actually changes the human nature and kindness.

Labeling

Some countries e.g. Europe and the USA do not allow the use or consumption of genetically modified organisms. This shows that they have adverse effects and huge impact to the environment.

Conclusion

Genetically modified products are of good help to human being as far as food security is concerned, but this technology should not be abused. Serious testing and inspection should be encouraged to curb genetically oriented complications to the living things and curb environmental hazards. This would ensure the integrity of human kind, nature and biodiversity are conserved.

Recommendations and Solutions

After carrying out a research on the current developments as far as genetic engineering is concerned, the benefits of biotechnology outweigh the demerits or the side effects. Therefore I would recommend scientists to go ahead in this research but they should engage more on the technologies that have little impact to the environment, social-economic factors and to the human-kind and nature as well. This would ensure safety for the whole world economically and socially as the integrity of human kind and biodiversity are conserved.

Some of the solutions include; monitored scientific research and testing, licensed operation and failure to abuse animals and plants as new technologies are invented. Food safety inspection should be encouraged. This involves government organized bodies whose their duty is to make sure that good food surveillance is done with maximum discipline. This includes checking for quality, quantity and whether the food is safe for human consumption.

The government ensures that all the necessary measures are put into place to ensure safety. Due to politic issues, activists, consumers and illiteracy, government food regulators fail to perform their duty properly. In general government regulators might be forced to allow untested genetically engineered food and other products in their country due to corruption or political influence by powerful agribusiness partners. This is a serious offence to the world of science and technology.

Appropriate food inspection and safety analysis should be done before they are released to the farmers or consumers. Tight actions should be taken against biotechnologist who produces chemically genetically modified organisms with lethal effects. Consumers of genetically modified products should be sensitized through civic education. Some countries like Europe prefer banning genetically engineered products. Other countries should be encourage to investigate the side effects of genetically modified organisms before start using them

Breakdown and failures actually lead to genetic problems in the world. These include genetically associated diseases, malnutrition, loss of biodiversity as mentioned earlier. Therefore, measures should be enacted so that new technologies to offset the side effects of genetically modified organisms e.g. on how to cure such diseases, maintain biodiversity and preserve the humankind.

References

Atherton T. Keith (2004) Modified crops Academic University Press, New York. Centre for food safety. Web.

Ethno-environmental consciousness in Toronto. Web.

Global issues and genetically modified products. Web.

Genetically modified food. Web.

Jonathan P. (1994), Human polymerase chain reaction, Elsevier UK.

Ontario law and policy. Web.

Underlying health risks caused by genetically modified food. Web.

Sherlock and John Moray (2007), Ethic and Biotechnology, Millers publishers, New York.

Southern E, (1991): southern blotting and electrophoresis, Oxford University Press, New York.

Young R.Tom (2004) biosafety of GMP, published by World Conservation Union.

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