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Genetic engineering: the making of monsters? Or the promise of a new enhanced future? Free essay! Download now

Home > GCSE > English language > Genetic engineering: the making of monsters? Or the promise of a new enhanced future?

Genetic engineering: the making of monsters? Or the promise of a new enhanced future?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1100 | Submitted: 22-Oct-2005
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An essay on the pros and cons of genetic engineering

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It is up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons, or vice versa. However before continuing with the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering, it is first vital to understand what the term actually means.
Genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technology is the ability to manipulate genetic material. By this technology, genes can be manipulated both inside and outside cells (referred to as in vivo, meaning ‘in life’ and in vitro, or ‘in glassware’, respectively). In genetic engineering, the DNA is commonly isolated from a cell and moved to the DNA of another organism. In effect, new types of organisms are made. For example, human genes have been placed into bacteria, including those that cause the production of insulin and interferon. Other lines of research are concerned with transforming higher plants and animals to yield more productive crops and herds of farm animals. Just from the definition, one would say that genetic engineering is a dominant and helpful “gadget”. It allows scientists to make discoveries and learn about biological processes that would otherwise be impossible. The only real disadvantage would only be if the method were to be abused.
Turning now to the question, the advantages are the immense power these methods bring, which would enable scientists in doing experiments to understand how organisms work and function, and a better understanding on diseases and promising treatments.
The most prominent and possibly the most acceptable reason given for genetic engineering is its potential use in preventative medicine. This could be primed from a few cells from an embryo that could be genetically analysed to detect harmful mutation or predisposition towards disorder, at which point action could be taken either through somatic cell or germ-line gene modification. In 1993, the gene that causes Huntington's Disease was located, and scientists are currently trying to determine its normal function (The Benefits of Genetic Engineering). Assuming researchers succeed in this venture, genetic engineering could then be used to eliminate an unbearable and ultimately fatal disease that affects approximately 30000 Americans and that has the potential to affect 150000 more through genetic inheritance (Huntington's Disease).
When it comes to agriculture, certainly genetic engineering has the capacity to improve crops or animals, provide disease resistance; change fertilizer or pesticide uses etc. Genetic engineering has been carried out for centuries in animals and plants by selective breeding. This develops particular genetic traits based on external appearance, by choosing, for example, which boars to mate which plant to develop, over many generations, leaner pig meat.
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