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Is genetic engineering good or bad? This is a debate that has been going on for several years. It is important to make an informed decision on this before taking a side by learning about the pros and cons. Genetic engineering is a technique, performed by scientists in a laboratory, to change a living organisms' DNA. Genetic engineering is defined as an alteration of the traits of the cell of an organism through the direct manipulation of genes.
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Types of Subjects of Tests
The types of genetic research are genetic testing, genetic databanks, and gene therapy. Most research is conducted on typical mice and houseflies, however, it is continuously being done on larger animals. In rare cases, this research is conducted using humans. When humans are used for research testing, they are volunteers.
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Genetic Engineering Basics
DNA is a blueprint that shows how individual an organism is. The information stored in an individual organisms' DNA is responsible for controlling all biochemical processes of an organism, such as an animal's cellular respiration and photosynthesis in plants. Genetic engineering can change and alter the makeup of a population and create new types of DNA. The four main steps involved in the process include:
- Isolating the genes that the scientist is interested in.
- Inserting the genes into a vector.
- Transforming the organism's cells that will be modified.
- Performing necessary testing to isolate the genetically modified organism.
Since genetic engineering is still be developed and is very new, it remains unknown whether or now the effects will be harmful or beneficial in the long run. Because of this it is hard to determine whether genetic engineering is good or bad.
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Good Aspects of This Process
There are some pros of genetic engineering that are thought to be extremely beneficial to medicine in the future. Those who have defective genes can undergo gene therapy to have their defective genes corrected to treat, and possibly cure, genetic disease at the molecular level. This process may be able to lessen the seriousness of disease by changing the genes responsible for the disease. This is expected to result in the most common diseases being far less common, and the amount of diseases overall will be far less. Another possibility is that it will lead to a better suited environment for all living organisms.
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Bad Aspects of This Process
With everything there are cons, as well. Most people consider the biggest concern is that genetically engineered organisms will interbreed with natural organisms. This creates the concern of how they will affect the health of our environment and humans because there is not enough evidence showing how they will affect natural organisms. In agriculture, some fear that widespread crop failure will occur if a virus, fungus, or pests develops and attacks a specific crop because all of the seeds of the crops will be of an identical genetic structure.
Research shows that food that was genetically engineered has resulted in 37 deaths and 1,500 partially paralyzed people. In addition to this, this has led to 5,000 additional people experiencing a temporary disability due to a syndrome, known as Tryptophan, linked to a genetically engineered bacteria.
Of course, there are also ethical concerns and the biggest concern in cloning. Since the first cloning, Dolly in 1996 (died in 2003), the safety of cloning and genetic engineering has been heavily questioned.
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Think Quest Library. (2009). Genetic Engineering: Good and Bad. Retrieved on January 27, 2010 from Think Quest Library: http://library.thinkquest.org/07aug/00775/index.html
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DNA: svilen001 – sxc.hu