Genetic engineering

Scientists have altered the genetic information contained in a cell of the organism for many years by procedures such as mutagenesis and artificial selection. Genetic engineering has acquired several uses in nature, it has been used in medicine, industry, research, agriculture and in a wide range of plants, animals and micro-organisms. Genetic engineering modifies the genetic information contained in an organism through application of procedures that bring in heritable component. The heritable component can be prepared externally or internally in the cell that posses hybridized qualities within the host organism. This technology has poised questions than answers on whether to regulate it on the basis of its benefits or its hazards to the environment and the human race. My thesis is that genetic engineering should be controlled by law.

In medicine, genetic engineering has been used in the medical treatment of diseases such as autoimmune and various cardiac disorders. Gene therapy, which is done by repairing and replacing or introducing therapeutic genes to fight diseases, has been useful in treatment. Pharmaceutical products have been realized by modification through cloning of genes. An example of these products is the bio-engineered insulin, which was earlier obtained from sheep and cows this has been a superior step to patients of diabetes. The technology has been of benefit to pregnant women who wish fetuses be monitored for genetic flaws. In the field of agriculture, genetic engineering has improved on the genetic fitness of plant species necessitating efficiency in growth of the plants. This has been made possible by strengthening plant to avail salinity, drought, viruses, increasing efficiency in photosynthesis, and reducing need for nitrogen fertilizers by plant. Some plants have been modified to produce their own pesticide thus have reduced the use of pesticides on plants while others have been modified into herbicide resistance species. The creation of transgenic farm animals, which observers argue, “are better able to resist diseases, have increased function as well as enhanced reproductive qualities.” has improved the agriculture field. For instance, the creation and farming of transgenic salmon that matures bigger and at a quicker rate than natural species.

The introduction of transgenic animal research models has benefited the research field. This has been achieved by making biomedical research faster, more accurate, less expensive and at the expense of fewer animal lives. These animals have been applied to experiment on the loss of function, gain of function, tracking, and expression of certain genes. Researches have also been able to study hereditary human diseases such as breast cancer by introducing cancer-causing genes to non-human mammals thus easing disease management. In the industrial field, proteins and enzymes modified from genes have been produced by biological factories enabled by genetic engineering. This factory has been used in the production of human growth hormones, supplements such as tryptophan, and fuel production.

At a first glance, this might look exciting but at a deeper consideration, this poses serious danger. Genetic engineering should be controlled by law since it reveals environmental and health hazards, the concept itself being fundamentally weak. “Genetically engineered crops are modified to manufacture their own pesticide”. This has claimed that genetic engineering will reduce use of pesticide but the fact remains that the net outcome of sowing pesticide-producing crops is a vast increase in pesticide; these crops have merely been classified as pesticides.

Due to the modification of herbicide, resistance crops there will be increased use of herbicides by farmers this being an environmental hazard. Pollen from these crops may be transferred to wild and cultivated plants causing deterred organic crops. Transfer of pollen to weedy relatives may also occur and this will increase the use of herbicides.

One of the health hazard exhibited in genetic engineering is toxicity of foods. This is as a result of mutations in an organism which is unexpected. Samuel I. Shibko, a government scientist claimed, “it is unlikely that molecular and compositional analysis can reasonably detect or predict all possible changes in toxicant levels or the development of new toxic metabolites as a result of genetic modifications introduced by the new methods of biotechnology.” Some of the added genes in crops have the ability to move heavy metals such as mercury from the soil into the plant tissues. This will eventually lead to concentration of toxic metals in crops thus contaminating foods. Addition of these genes would poison animals consuming the crop debris hence having a poisoned wildlife, for example, modified crops like rice will endanger mice and deer on consumption. Allergic reactions can occur in individuals on consumption of genetic foods; this is a result of unknown allergens in foods. Modified foods appear fresh even after a long duration of storage, which may substitute, to a loss of nutritional value, this will absolutely mislead the consumer. On modification, antibiotic resistance genes are used to mark the genetically modified cells. Bacteria may pick genes that confer antibiotic resistance present in modified crops; these bacteria on infection will be of high resistance to antibiotics. The side effects associated with genetic engineering can cause loss of life for example by tryptophan made by genetically engineered bacteria has led to loss of life and others infected.

Claims have been made to inspire the benefits of genetic engineering but they are unsubstantiated. There have been claims that genetic engineering is essential to eradicate hunger in the world. The truth is that hunger is caused by poverty due to people’s inability to purchase food. Opinions that genetic engineering is safe are contradicting since there have not been sufficient experience justifying the claim of safety. It is still justified that all potential harms to the environment have not yet been identified. People have also been made to believe that genetic modified foods are no different from natural foods, but there is no natural way of altering the genetic makeup of an organism. There has been a high percentage of ignorance on the effects of this technology regarding to the effect of the modified organism on the environment being unknown. Other effects still remain unknown such as effect of consuming these products and the effect of the insertion on the biochemistry of the host organisms. In case of any effects or disaster associated with genetic modification, recovery has been unrevealed among scientists this exhibiting a great danger in human life.

This technology poses a threat to raise animal anguish and reduce species integrity as well as producing a potentially destructive effect on the stability and sustainability of the earth’s ecosystem. Usage of modified foods, plants and feed should be controlled by law. Deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms should also be controlled to ensure a safer environment.

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