The Morals And Ethics Of Genetic Engineering

3610 words - 14 pages

Introduction
Widely considered a revolutionary scientific breakthrough, genetic engineering has been on a path toward changing the world since its introduction in 1973 by Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer (What). However, as genetic engineering slowly permeates the lives of humanity, the morals and ethics behind what are now common practices are entering public attention, and as a culture we are left to question whether the change brought on by such a discovery bring benefits and positive change, or damage and destruction. Genetic engineering is justified through applied bioethics and despite arguments against its societal implantation, should be fully utilized in efforts to develop into the 21st century.
Genetic engineering refers to the technology used to alter and transport genomes and organisms, effectively shaping them to the desire or will of the geneticist. Genetic engineering can also be referred to as Genetic Modification or Genetic Manipulation (Genetics). Organisms that undergo or are created by the process of genetic engineering are referred to as Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs for short. Genetic engineering can be used to create or change entire species, such as glow in the dark organisms, and is widely used in industries such as agriculture and energy production (Genetics).
The scientific process of genetic engineering is very complex and much more difficult than it would seem. First, an organism with the desired trait is located and selected. Cellular DNA is extracted from this organism to transplant the desired trait into the new organism. Gene cloning follows, with the locating and copying of the desired trait. The new gene(s), called a transgene is delivered into cells of the recipient organism, or transformation. The most common transformation method utilizes bacteria that naturally engineer plants with recombinant DNA. The transgene is injected into the microorganisms, known as plasmids, which subsequently distributes it into cells of the organism being engineered. The gene gun method, another transformation technique, discharges microscopic gold specks glazed with duplicates of the transgene into cells of the inheritor organism. With either method, there is a lack of control over where or if the gene will transplant into the genome, thus often hundreds of attempts are necessary to create a transgenic GMO (What).
So why is this scientific process controversial? As a relatively novel facet of the scientific community, it is not entirely understood and its effects have yet to be seen due to its fairly broadened usage. Arguments exist over the potential environmental danger the permanent decrease in biodiversity brought on by the engineering of species could bring. The mass consumption of GMOs by average consumers has unknown, if any, health effects and many argue that the possible risk is enough to cease genetically engineering agricultural products. Lastly, there is the concern that mankind is “playing God”, that we...

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