Genetic engineering is a process in which scientists transfer genes from one species to another totally unrelated species. Usually this is done in order to get one organism to produce proteins, which it would not naturally produce. The genes taken from one species, which code for a particular protein, are put into cells of another species, using a vector. This can result in the cells producing the desired protein. It is used for producing proteins which can be used by humans, such as insulin for diabetics and is also used to make organisms better at surviving, for example genetically modifying a plant so that it can survive in acidic soil.
There is debate about whether genetic engineering should be used or not, and to what degree. There are many problems that can occur from the process and many of these cannot be avoided currently. There are known problems and there is also the fact that the whole process is unpredictable and unforeseen problems could crop up. A good example of this was the influence of a genetically engineered organism on a food chain, which sometimes damaged the local ecology. The new organism could now compete successfully against other species, causing unforeseen changes in the environment. This could then have a knock-on effect that could lead to the destruction of whole species.
Due to the quite random nature of genetic engineering, there is a risk that it may disrupt the functioning of other genes in an organism. This could mean that the organisms do not survive at all, or become some sort of mutated freak, which is completely different and maybe even more dangerous. Genetic engineers also intend to profit by patenting genetically engineered seeds. This means that, when a farmer plants these genetically engineered seeds, all the seeds have an identical genetic structure. As a result, if a fungus, a virus, or a pest develops which can attack this particular crop, they might all be at risk, resulting in widespread crop failure. Insects, birds, and the wind can carry genetically altered seeds, which can cross-pollinate with genetically natural crops and wild relatives. All crops, organic and non-organic, are vulnerable to contamination from cross-pollinatation, meaning that problems in the original genetically modified organisms can be spread and can now affect other plants that have not been genetically modified.
Genetic engineering in food now uses material from organisms that have never been part of the human food supply, and so could have unforeseen consequences for the humans who eat them, as our bodies have not had to deal with these substances before. Genetically engineered bacteria have also been known to kill. 37 people died, 1500 were partially paralysed and 5000 temporarily disabled from a syndrome that was finally linked to a substance made by genetically engineered bacteria. Genetic...