BENEFITS OF GENETIC ENGINEERING VERSUS THE POTENTIAL RISKS
Introduction and Benefits
Genetic engineering is the deliberate scientific modification of organism’s characterization by manipulation of its genetic material. On the part of economics, there has been a steady increase in the revenues from genetically modified crops. Also the global sales of these crops have also been matched by increase in sales of gene-based medicines. Scientists have developed crop that are more yielding, more resistance to diseases and pests and also more resistant to adverse climatic conditions especially drought leading to more economic power to farmers globally. Genetic engineering and technology have ensured that animals, especially human babies are born without genetic defects thus making them stronger, healthier and more adapted to the environment (Anderson, 2000). In reference to alleviating food scarcity and hunger, genetic engineering has been presented as one of the solutions to this grave issue, specifically the use of genetically modified crops (GMOs).
Demographically, genetic engineering will lead to prolonging of life spans across the world. In the developed world, this will see constant conflict between the old and young people for resources especially food with a small young generation supporting a bigger group of the older generation. In the developing world, such will cause pressure on land leading to genocides as it has been witnessed in the past. To the governments and other moral social institutions, the raised conflicts will present leadership challenges (Melin, 2004). Genetically engineered clones may be altered to have no consciousness and small brains thus have limited moral judgment and conscience.
The environment faces the greatest risk of degradation as a result of genetically engineered plants. Genetic mutation may set loose a plant gene that may destroy other animal and plant life in the environment leading to disasters. An escaped gene from a plant or animal may see the fertilization of a close relative that may lead to more mutations. For crops, these may see the emergence of a new weed that is resistant to pesticide (Morgan, 2006).Other environmental safety issues include unknown long term disturbances, non target effects for instance a crop modified to kill bollworms may also kill other important nematodes, out crossing is also a big issue where pollen from genetically modified foods may cross over to other related crops, as well as the poor regulation of field releases.
Other potential risks involved are food safety which include alteration of nutritive value of genetically modified foods, some become allergens for instance a gene from soy bean introduced in maize could result in allergenicity in persons who react to soy bean proteins, increased toxicity as well as other unknown long term effects (Anderson, 2000).
For me, I would argue in favor of letting nature decide its cause without human interference. In conclusion this research poses the question, does the short term gains in genetic engineering warrant the potential disasters in the long term?
Anderson, C. E. (2000). Genetic engineering: Dangers and opportunities. The Futurist, 34(2), 20-20-22. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/218560817?accountid=8289.
Melin, A. (2004). Genetic engineering and the moral status of non-human species. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 17(6), 479-479-495. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196562249?accountid=8289
Morgan, s. (2006). Genetic engineering: the facts. London, UK: Evans Brothers.