There are many manipulations that humans have done to the environment throughout history in order to benefit mankind. As technology has increased many of these manipulations have begun to take place on a larger scale resulting in more drastic changes to the environment. The first manipulations humans used to benefit themselves were farming and domestication of animals. This was very basic manipulation to the environment and did not make drastic changes to the environment. It was not until the industrial revolution that pollution and people’s negative effects on the environment became very apparent. New technology allowed for people to make changes that could possibly be irreversible upon the environment. With the culmination of drastic changes coupled by the advancement of technology, we have genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is both a threat and a benefit for humans in our continuous strive to manipulate the environment.
The basic uses for genetic engineering include gene therapy, cloning, biological warfare, vaccines and antibiotic, human reproduction, and food production. Most of these uses of genetic engineering have positive results for humans; however there are some areas that have negative results.
Gene-therapy is the alteration of an individual’s genetic material for therapeutic purposes. (Leach, 182) Gene therapy opens the possibility of treating and maybe even curing medical illnesses that people suffer from that until now do not really have effective treatments. A possible use of gene-therapy is to treat people that have genetically inherited illnesses such as sickle cell anemia.
Cloning has become a huge possibility with the effective clone of Dolly the sheep. Sex is using recombination of genes while cloning replicates the genes. "Cloning is a fundamental method of reproduction in large parts of the natural world."(Rantala, 9) The main difference between Dolly’s cloning unlike other methods of cloning is Dolly is cloned from adult DNA. Other methods of Cloning up until Dolly used cloning by splitting embryos to create twins, or using artificial insemination. One of the downsides to cloning using this method is that the clones begin to age a lot faster making it impossible to repeat the process by making clones of clones of clones and so on. The problem arises that because there is less of a DNA strand passed on through the aged clones, the clones become more susceptible to mutation. Another negative effect of cloning is the prevention of evolution, in particular the immune system. Through sexual reproduction the evolved immune system is inherited by the offspring. Clones don’t get that new immune system. This makes clones susceptible to the same germs of the previous generation. "Without sex we’d soon be toast for germs. And cloned, genetically identical cows would be sitting ducks for epidemics." (Rantala, 189)
Biological warfare is one of the obviously...