Genetic Engineering Brings More Harm Than Good

Length: 1953 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Until the recent demise of the Soviet Union, we lived under the daily
threat of nuclear holocaust extinguishing human life and the entire
biosphere. Now it looks more likely that total destruction will be
averted, and that widespread, but not universally fatal, damage will
continue to occur from radiation accidents from power plants, aging
nuclear submarines, and perhaps the limited use of tactical nuclear
weapons by governments or terrorists.

What has gone largely unnoticed is the unprecedented lethal threat of
genetic engineering to life on the planet. It now seems likely, unless
a major shift in international policy occurs quickly, that the major
ecosystems that support the biosphere are going to be irreversibly
disrupted, and that genetically engineered viruses may very well lead
to the eventual demise of almost all-human life. In the course of the
major transformations that are on the way, human beings will be
transformed, both intentionally and unintentionally, in ways that will
make us something different than what we now consider human.

Regardless of the dangers, we are rushing full speed ahead on almost
all fronts. Some of the most powerful multinational chemical,
pharmaceutical and agricultural corporations have staked their
financial futures on genetic engineering. Enormous amounts of money are
already involved, and the United States government is currently
bullying the rest of the world into rapid acceptance of corporate
demands concerning genetic engineering research and marketing.

In the 1950's, the media was full of information about the great new
scientific miracle that was going to make it possible to kill all of
the noxious insects in the world, to wipe out insect-born diseases and
feed the world's starving masses. That was DDT. In the 1990's, the
media is full of information about the coming wonders of genetic
engineering. Everywhere are claims that genetic engineering will feed
the starving, help eliminate disease, and so forth. The ideas and
evidence presented below are intended to help evaluate that central

Some scientists believe that, since genetic codes determine the
appearance, personality, health, and aging process of human beings, if
that genetic information in the chromosomes could be decoded and the
genetic mechanism were understood, we could potentially control and
improve our health, quality of life, and the biochemical processes in
our bodies. In other words, we could control our own fate. Also, we'd
be able to improve the genes of other animals and vegetables so that
they could serve humankind better. At first sight, these ideas seem
reasonable and attractive. However, careful analysis reveals that they
are based upon an incorrect theory--the theory of gene determinism.

Genes are often described as 'blueprints' or 'computer programs' for

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Genetic Engineering Brings More Harm Than Good." 17 Oct 2017
Title Length Color Rating  
The Ethical Implications of Genetic Screening and Testing: Arguments For and Against - Given advancements in technology and medicine, genetic screening and testing is becoming more commonplace in our society. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) defines genetic screening as “a search in a population for persons possessing certain genotypes that (1) are already associated with disease or predispose to disease, (2) may lead to disease in their descendants, or (3) produce other variations not known to be associated with disease” (NHGRI, 2005). The term genetic testing is similar, but differs in that it only targets those individuals believed to be at high risk for a genetic disease....   [tags: costly diagnosis, treatment, genetic intervention]
:: 6 Works Cited
1911 words
(5.5 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Treating Genetic Disorders with Gene Therapy Essay - ... Successes of gene therapy include the treatment of hereditary blindness, immune deficiencies, hemophilia, blood disease, cancer, parkinson’s disease and more. In most tumor-related developments are caused by the inactivity of the p53 cell. What the p53 gene does is balks the overgrowth of cells and keeps tumors from being made. Many people that have been diagnosed with cancer or have a tumor can often be found to have the p53 gene malfunctioning. With gene therapy, there is a probability that a new gene would be delivered to the malfunctioning p53 and correcting the mistake....   [tags: correcting dysfunctional genes]
:: 3 Works Cited
1180 words
(3.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Genetic Engineering Essay - Genetic Engineering When we envision our future, we usually imagine a future free of disease and physical sickness, but have you ever wondered how a disease-free society will be accomplished. In the twenty-first century our world will be a very different place because of genetic manipulation and engineering. There are many pros and cons to this debate, but it is undeniable that the effects from the new revelations in the field of genetics are far-reaching and deep impacting. Genetic engineering is a radical new technology, one that breaks down fundamental barriers, not only between species, but also between humans, animals, and plants....   [tags: Genetics Science Food Agriculture Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1041 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Genetically Modified Plants - Genetically Modified Plants Would most people eat a hamburger if they knew that the cow that provided the beef possessed genes from a sheep. How about bacon that came from a pig with sheep traits. More likely than not, they would refuse to consume such products, denouncing them as unsafe and irresponsible. Protests over these animals with mixed genetics would probably begin. This genetic tampering has been occurring in plants for years, but the majority of consumers do not think twice about purchasing products derived from these genetically engineered plants....   [tags: Genetic Engineering]
:: 6 Works Cited
1469 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Agricultural Revolution Essay - Welcome to the age of an agricultural revolution as everyday biotechnology continues to bring innovation to human’s most basic needs – food. Food is essential to any living organism, providing energy for our production and nutrients for our protection. Without this fundamental element, life cannot exist. Our lack to produce our own energy, like plants, causes us to become dependent on others for survival. Humans existence is attributed only to the million years of evolution our food source underwent to sustain our survival....   [tags: Genetic Engineering]
:: 6 Works Cited
2442 words
(7 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Essay about Genetic Testing or Genetic Screening - Genetic testing, also known as screening, is a rapidly advancing new scientific field that can potentially revolutionize not only the world of medicine, but many aspects of our lives. Genetic screening is the sequencing of human DNA in order to discover genetic differences, anomalies, or mutations that may prove pathological. As genetic screening becomes more advanced and easily accessible, it presents society with difficult questions that must be asked about the boundaries of science and to what degree we are allowed to tamper with the human genome....   [tags: prenatal genetic screening, diagnosis]
:: 3 Works Cited
1504 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Psychological Harm Hurts More Essay - “Growing up in a violent home is one of the most terrifying and traumatic experiences a child can go through.” Violence in homes can be domestic abuse between parents, extended family and children. One hand, this has been a recurring problem and should have more exposure in our societies through the use of education. On the other hand, once violence in the family has occurred and the police were notified, the situation tends to get worse between each family member, especially children. The current methods of dealing with violence in homes those children are exposed to whether they are between spouses, families or, children and parents, do more harm than good....   [tags: Violence, Domestic Abuse, Traumatic Experience]
:: 2 Works Cited
863 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about Ethical Dilemma of Embryo Cloning - Utilitarianism There are many ethical theories that guide people in their daily lives when it comes to decision making. One of these theories is known as utilitarianism and it refers to a model that supposes an action is only right if it brings out greater happiness to the largest number of people. In essence, if an action results in happiness, it is perceived as morally right and wrong is the opposite happiness. Mill analyzes utilitarianism on the same level but adds a different twist to the theory....   [tags: utilitarianism, stem cells, genetic engineering]
:: 5 Works Cited
707 words
(2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on The Harm Principle in the 21st Century - The Harm Principle in the 21st Century I intend to reassess the main criticisms levelled against John Stuart Mill's, Harm Principle. I will argue that his Principle has, with the benefit of hindsight, had a positive rather than negative influence upon society and given a framework within which citizens can be free to accept or reject options. I will show that, On Liberty is as significant today as when it was first published. Mill's Harm Principle says that, other things being equal, we should be free from interference either by the state or an individual....   [tags: John Stuart Mills Harm Principle Essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
3458 words
(9.9 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Genetic Engineering - At the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Keith Campbell, director of embryology at PPL therapeutics in Roslin, and his colleague Dr. Ian Wilmut worked together on a project to clone a sheep, Dolly, from adult cells. On February 22, 1997, they finally succeeded. Dolly was the only lamb born from 277 fusions of oocytes with udder cells. Wilmut says there were so many failures because it is difficult to ensure that the empty oocytes and the donor cell are at the same stage of the cell division cycle.To clone Dolly, basically scientists took an unfertilized egg cell, removed the nucleus, replaced it with cells taken from the organism to be cloned, put it into an empty egg cell which...   [tags: Genetic Engineering Essays] 1446 words
(4.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches

our bodies and all living organisms. Although it is true that genes are
specific sequences of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that are central to
the production of proteins, contrary to popular belief and the now
outmoded standard genetic model, genes do not directly determine the
'traits' of an organism.1a They are a single factor among many. They
provide the 'list of ingredients' which is then organized by the
'dynamical system' of the organism. That 'dynamical system' determines
how the organism is going to develop. In other words, a single gene
does not, in most cases, exclusively determine either a single feature
of our bodies or a single aspect of our behavior. The genes are
processed through the self-organizing ('dynamical') system of the
organism, so that the combination of a complex combination of genes is
subjected to a variety of environmental factors that lead to the final
results, whether somatic or ! behavioral.

^a gene is not an easily identifiable and tangible object. It is
not only the DNA sequence which determines its functions in the
organisms, but also its location in a specific chromosomal,
cellular, physiological and evolutionary context. It is therefore
difficult to predict the impact of genetic material transfer on the
functioning of the extremely tightly controlled, integrated and
balanced functioning of all the tens of thousands of structures and
processes that make up the body of any complex organism.

What has gone largely unnoticed is the unprecedented lethal threat of
genetic engineering to life on the planet. It now seems likely, unless
a major shift in international policy occurs quickly, that the major
ecosystems that support the biosphere are going to be irreversibly
disrupted, and that genetically engineered viruses may very well lead
to the eventual demise of almost all-human life. In the course of the
major transformations that are on the way, human beings will be
transformed, both intentionally and unintentionally, in ways that will
make us something different than what we now consider human.

Genetic engineering refers to the artificial modification of the
genetic code of a living organism. Genetic engineering changes the
fundamental physical nature of the organism, sometimes in ways that
would never occur in nature. Genes from one organism are inserted in
another organism, most often across natural species boundaries. Some of
the effects become known, but most do not. The effects of genetic
engineering, which we know, are usually short-term, specific and
physical. The effects we do not know are often long-term, general, and
also mental. Long-term effects may be either specific4 or general.

What harm could Genetic Engineering bring? The main potential harm of
Genetic Engineering is associated with artificial horizontal gene
transfer experimentation. Horizontal gene transfer occurs commonly in
nature. Genes can be exchanged between different bio-species. But the
frequency of these natural transfers is limited by the defense systems,
i.e. immune systems, of each bio-species. The immune system serves to
prevent invasion by harmful foreign genes, viruses, and so forth, so
that the bio-species can maintain its characteristic traits and normal
metabolism. The Genetic Engineering method of artificial horizontal
gene transfer works by penetrating or weakening the immune system and
using virulent genes as delivery vehicles. That is, the gene to be
transferred is combined with a virulent gene to effect penetration.

This method allows harmful virulent genes, especially those with
resistance to antibiotics, to become widespread in nature.

Genetically engineered material can enter the body through food or
bacteria or viruses. The dangers of lethal viruses containing
genetically engineered material and created by natural processes have
been mentioned above. The dangers of generating pathogens by vector
mobilization and recombination are real. Over a period of ten years, 6
scientists working with the genetic engineering of cancer-related on
co-genes at the Pasteur Institutes in France have contracted cancer.42

Non-human engineered genes can also be introduced into the body through
the use of genetically engineered vaccines and other medicines, and
through the use of animal parts genetically engineered with human genes
to combat rejection problems.

Gene therapy, for the correction of defective human genes that cause
certain genetic diseases, involves the intentional introduction of new
genes into the body in an attempt to modify the genetic structure of
the body. It is based on a simplistic and flawed model of gene function
which assumes a one-to-one correspondence between individual gene and
individual function. Since horizontal interaction43 among genes has
been demonstrated, introduction of a new gene can have unforeseen
effects. Another problem, already mentioned, is the slippery slope that
leads to the notion of designer genes. We are already on that slope
with the experimental administration of genetically engineered growth
hormone to healthy children, simply because they are shorter than
average and their parents would like them to be taller.44

A few years ago a biotech corporation applied to the European Patent
Office for a patent on a so-called "pharm-woman", the idea being to
genetically engineer human females so that their breast-milk would
contain specialized pharmaceuticals. Work is also on going to use
genetic engineering to grow human breasts in the laboratory. It doesn't
take much imagination to realize that not only would they be used for
breast replacement needed due to cancer surgery, but also to foster a
vigorous commercial demand by women in search of the "perfect" breasts.

A geneticist has recently proposed genetically engineering headless
humans to be used for body parts. Some prominent geneticists have
supported his idea.

Since the birth of the duplicated sheep "Dolly," genetic engineering
(GE) has attracted attention from all levels of society. GE raises
questions of religion, ethics, and ecology that are of great concern to
many people. I would like to share a little of my understanding of GE,
hoping that it will be helpful to everyone here.

Several companies are working on developing pigs that have organs
containing human genes in order to facilitate the use of the organs in
humans. The basic idea is something like this. You can have your own
personal organ donor pig with your genes implanted. When one of your
organs gives out, you can use the pigs.

The breeding of animals and plants speeds up the natural processes of
gene selection and mutation that occur in nature to select new species
that have specific use to humans. Although the selecting of those
species interferes with the natural selection process that would
otherwise occur, the processes utilized are found in nature. For
example, horses are bred to run fast without regard for how those
thoroughbreds would be able to survive in the wild. There are problems
with stocking streams with farmed fish because they tend to crowd out
natural species, be less resistant to disease, and spread disease to
wild fish.

As more and more human genes are being inserted into non-human
organisms to create new forms of life that are genetically partly
human, new ethical questions arise. What percent of human genes does an
organism have to contain before it is considered human? For instance,
how many human genes would a green pepper have to contain before one
would have qualms about eating it? For meat-eaters, the same question
could be posed about eating pork. If human beings have special ethical
status, does the presence of human genes in an organism change its
ethical status? What about a mouse genetically engineered to produce
human sperm39 that is then used in the conception of a human child?

Bioengineers often claim that they are just speeding up the processes
of natural selection and making the age-old practices of breeding more
efficient. In some cases that may be true, but in most instances the
gene changes that are engineered would never occur in nature, because
they cross natural species barriers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a set of
xenotransplant guidelines in September of 1996 that allows animal to
human transplants, and puts the responsibility for health and safety at
the level of local hospitals and medical review boards. A group of 44
top virologists, primate researchers, and AIDS specialists have
attacked the FDA guidelines, saying, "based on knowledge of past
cross-species transmissions, including AIDS, Herpes B virus, Ebola, and
other viruses; the use of animals has not been adequately justified for
use in a handful of patients when the potential costs could be in the
hundreds, thousands or millions of human lives should a new infectious
agent be transmitted."

Clearly, genetic engineering brings more harms than benefit. We should
use various channels to influence the direction of research, oppose the
cruel treatment of animals used in genetic experiments, and oppose the
policy of not labeling genetic engineered food products. However, care
is needed in reading scientific reports. Many scientific reports in the
United States have been exaggerated for the sake of competition. It is
advisable to observe clearly before offering criticism. On the other
hand, there is no need to worry that scientists might soon create a
horde of freaks and monsters. The genetic mechanism is an extremely
complex process. Genetic engineers will quickly realize their
limitations. We still have enough time to avert potential disasters.

Return to