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The Fda Should Prohibit Genetic Engineering

2469 words - 10 pages

Abstract:  Recent developments in genomic research have enabled humans to manipulate the genes of living organisms with genetic engineering.  Scientists have used this momentous technology in environmental and most recently, agricultural spheres.  However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require that genetically altered foods be labeled as such.  As a result, there is no protection against humans' ability to construct organisms that nature never intended to exist and to threaten nature's carefully balanced environment.  Is it ethically responsible for the government to allow scientists to continue with these advances if they do not understand their consequences?

Consider the following: tomatoes are sensitive to frost, which shortens their growing seasons.  Fish, in contrast, survive in very cold water.  Scientists have found the specific gene that enables fish to resist cold in a flounder, and used genetic engineering to incorporate it into the DNA of a tomato [1].  By what moral authority do humans have the power to make this transformation?

 

In a life of technological advancement, we are faced with many ethical issues regarding the natural world.  Humans have become capable of scientifically manipulating genes to create organisms that nature never intended to exist.  Although scientists have the technology at their disposal, is it ethical to change living organisms to better satisfy our own needs?  Do scientists know enough about the process of genetic engineering to determine if it is safe and environmentally sound?  Many companies have made large profits on genetically altered materials.  Tomatoes are bigger and corn is golder.  Consumers are happier.  The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require that farmers label their genetically engineered products.  However, through regulation and knowledge, the FDA could be a crucial ethical force in controlling the impact of genetic engineering on industry and society.

 

Genetic engineering is a laboratory technique used to change the DNA of living organisms.  DNA may be likened to individual computer programs or blueprints for the individuality of an organism [1].  It contains code for the makeup of a specific organism and all of its unique traits.  Organisms rely on the information stored in DNA to manage each of their biochemical processes.  Genes are the segments of DNA that are associated with specific features or functions [1].  Scientists have discovered certain enzymes that can change the structure of DNA, some of which can cut and join strands of DNA.  Using these enzymes, genes can be spliced together to build customized DNA [1].  Ron Epstein describes genetic engineering as:

 

"the artificial modification of the genetic code of a living organism. Genetic engineering changes the fundamental physical nature of the organism, sometimes in ways that would never occur in nature. Genes from one organism are...

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