The Dark Side of Genetic Engineering


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I never knew what genetic engineering was until I watched a special on the Discovery channel. The special showed scientists forming the first “perfect” embryo. What was very shocking was that the scientists kept asking each other what traits this embryo should compose of. To me that was disturbing and unethical to make a living human being based on what traits the parents would want them to have. This process goes against nature just as Francis Bacon said “if we would control nature, we must first obey her” (Fox 193). Genetic Engineering does not end world hunger or cure diseases but it takes lives, harms the environment and causes new diseases to emerge.
According to Genetic Engineering Opposing Viewpoints, genetic engineering is a science where genes can be altered and manipulated in different ways to adjust the characteristics of an organism or a group of organisms, also known as biotechnology. Genetic Engineering was first introduced to the world in the 1970’s as a result of genetics and study of hereditary (Stich 12).
One result of genetic engineering technology is defective animals. As Dr. John Hasler cofounder of an animal biotechnology company in Pennsylvania predicted, “We’re going to make animals that nature never made” (Johnson 18). With transgenic (transferring genes from one species to another) research, animals are “custom-designed” to being disease “models.” An experiment was conducted by the U.S Department of Agriculture; the experimenters inserted a human growth hormone into pigs to create animals that grow faster and bigger then their siblings on less food. The experiment backfired leaving the pigs with many different diseases such as arthritis, gastric ulcers, enlarged hearts, kidney problems, and dermatitis (Johnson 18). If this experiment was never conducted by the U.S Department of Agriculture, who are suppose to protect the environment including animals, the pigs would have a healthier life and grow at a normal rate without the suffering from diseases that plague our world. This is one form of animal cruelty.
Many supporters of genetic engineering have said that the technology can end world hunger. According to Stephen Leahy, in his article he states that even though world hunger is a major economical and social problem, genetically altered crops cannot sustain the number of people that live on the planet. The GE crops that are being grown such as cotton, corn and soy are all engineered to resist herbicides and only can be afforded by big commercial companies (Leahy 50).

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Sakiko Fukda Parr of the United Nations Developmental Program said “if biotechnologists really want to feed the poor then they need to create virus-resistant, drought-resistant, nutrient-enhanced versions of such staple crops as millet, sorghum, and cassava” (Leahy 50). If genetic engineering where to solve world hunger they would not have grown conola, corn and soy, crops that are poor in nutrient, easily spoiled and can cause new diseases to emerge if not correctly genetically altered.
With the increase in diabetics around the world many biotech factories are taking the opportunity to make money. The first genetically engineered product pharmaceutically is “human-derived” insulin. The insulin was first approved in Canada in 1983, and quickly replaced the insulin that was made from the pancreas of cows and pigs. The insulin did not come back with a positive feedback but caused biotech’s first human deaths. Colleen Fuller, Vancouver health policy expert and spokesperson for the Diabetic Rights said “Hundreds of Canadian diabetics have reported reactions to genetically engineered insulin.” Canada was not the only one affected with casualties but also in the U.S, Britain and other countries. Fuller also said that when diabetics take the animal insulin problems cleared back up (Leahy 51). With the financial success of the GE insulin they released another product GE erythropoietin (EPO), which is an antianemia drug made by placing a human gene in the ovarian of a Chinese hamsters (Leahy 51-52). Even though the biotech pharmaceutical drugs caused deaths and health problems the biotech companies still release products to make more money. The health of the people apparently does not matter.
Genetic Engineering is supposed to be able to cure diseases, but instead people who under go gene therapy die. Dr. Nancy Olivieri, head of the thalassemia and sickle cell anemia research programs at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children said, “Currently 99 percent of genomic research is about making money, not curing people.” An 18 year old boy, Jesse Gelsinger, died while undergoing gene therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. Another man James Dent also died while undergoing gene therapy for a brain tumor. More than 691 people who had gene therapy in the United States hundreds of people reported adverse reactions (Leahy 53). Genetic engineering is supposed to cure diseases but instead why is it doing the opposite of what its supporters are saying. The trials of gene therapy that were completed more then 90 percent had some form of adverse reactions from mild to severe and worst of all many have died from gene therapy.
Genetic engineering can enhance the human life physically and intellectually but with this advancement the gap between equality will widen. The people who have the money will get the genetic enhancement but the people that cannot afford the genetic enhancement will be left hanging. This will create the ultimate fight for the people who are normal to gain employment, and social status (Mehlman 60). If someone was to hire a person who can persevere would they choose someone who is genetically altered to persevere or someone who can just do their best? The answer is clear, someone who is altered to persevere. This could be the fuel to trigger a World War III between the rich and poor.
Many Americans do not know if they are eating genetically engineered food because it’s not labeled. What are the companies afraid of? Is the food safe enough to eat? Well many supporters as well as the government might tell you its safe and beneficial. According to Dr. Arphad Pusztai, he states that one of the adverse reactions of genetically engineered food is allergies and anaphylaxis (severe hypersensitivity) (Pusztai). As someone who has experienced and medical knowledge as a nurse I know how bad anaphylaxis can be. That person can have their air-way cut off and not able to breathe but the worst case scenario is that the person could die.


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