The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Use of Gene Technology
The field of gene technology is an extremely vast and largely unknown
one. Within it are many different sections of application and within
these come many advantages and many disadvantages. It is a relatively
new area of science and as such many people are unaware of the full
potential of the applications of gene technology, or even the possible
negative repercussions. This gives rise to questions such as, 'Is it
right for us to play God?'
One of the largest areas of application of gene technology is in
medicine. The first practical use of genetic engineering was to use
bacteria as 'factories' to make substances that are useful to humans.
The prime example of this is insulin, where previously it had to be
obtained from animals for those people who needed regular insulin
injections. This process was more expensive, but it was also animal
insulin, so there was a high risk of side effects. With gene
technology, it is now possible to manipulate bacteria to produce vast
quantities of human insulin at a cheaper cost with no side effects.
Another practical use in medicine is to check unborn babies for
possible genetic disorders. With gene technology it is possible to
assess the likelihood of an unborn child being born with or developing
a disease that would seriously affect their life. With this
information, parents have the choice of keeping the baby or not, to
spare it from a seriously impaired or shortened life. An exciting and
likely prospect in medicine is gene therapy, which is being tested
currently. This would allow doctors to cure a disorder which was a
result of a defective gene, and the first successful attempt was made
where the gene encoding the enzyme adenosine deaminase was transferred
into the bone marrow of two girls suffering from a rare blood disorder
caused by the lack of this enzyme. This extremely promising approach
will require a lot of additional effort, but could change the lifes of
millions of people.
There are other practical uses of gene technology in other areas, one
being crime fighting. Before genetic fingerprinting was developed,
scientists had to rely on identifying certain proteins in blood or
body fluids, but now just a hair, a minute speck of blood or a drop of
semen can serve as sources of DNA enough to damn or clear a suspect.
The chances of these tests on the DNA being incorrect are
infinitessimaly small and as such this technique has helped to track
down hundreds of murderers, rapists and burglars just because of one
small piece of evidence left at the scene of the crime.
A realistic target for gene technology would be to clone animals on
the verge of extinction. Scientists have kept full copies of the DNA
of animals such as rhinoceroses, tigers and condors so that maybe one