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Can Genetic Modification Benefit Humanity? Essay

1584 words - 6 pages

Throughout the course of human history, new technological advancements have always created opposing views, and conflict between the different groups that hold them. Today, one of the greatest technological controversies is over the morals and practicality of genetically modifying crops and animals. Reasons for doing so vary from making them more nutritious to making plants more bountiful to allowing organisms to benefit humans in ways never before possible. Genetic engineering is a process in which genes within the DNA of one organism are removed and placed into the DNA of another, a “…reshuffling of genes…from one species to another” (Steinbrecher qtd. in Epstein). However, uncertainty about the practice has resulted in several groups who argue for its future. Some believe that genetic engineering should be encouraged to its greatest potential, others argue that the cons of genetic engineering greatly outweigh any benefits and feel it should be entirely banned, while a final group feels genetic engineering should be continued but only under much more strict moderation and regulation.
One group of the debaters believe that genetic modification, once properly researched and investigated, contains enormous potential for benefiting humanity. A portion of people who support genetic modification of plants and crops do so because they realize the benefits they can provide for society, especially for those in developing countries. Two scientists, Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer are responsible for the creation of “golden rice”, a type of genetically modified rice to create large amounts of vitamin A, much greater quantities than could ever be found in nature. The hopes of the two men were to help alleviate malnutrition in third world countries, especially Asia (Enserink). These men had looked at a conflict that was facing the world and saw how they could do their part to fix it. For them, one of the most appropriate ways to handle the issue was to utilize a new technology to make the vitamin deficiency in Asia slightly more manageable.
However, their attempts were not met without resistance. Potrykus and Beyer quickly found Greenpeace was their greatest opposition, claiming after testing “…that golden rice simply wouldn’t work” (Enserink 470). Greenpeace’s claim stated that unreasonable quantities of the rice must be consumed daily to supply adequate vitamin A, while Potrykus retorted that their findings were a preliminary “proof of concept.” Despite his response, golden rice still faces a great amount of opposition and has yet to be widely put into practice (Enserink 470). Potrykus and Beyer had only desired to help those in need by utilizing technology that was unavailable to them. Despite this, they are forced to defend their work against people who do not support it simply because of preliminary analysis. Had genetic modification been allowed proceed without a fear of third parties intervening to raise suspicions, Beyer and Potrykus’ dream could...

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