Genetic engineering is a process that alters the genetic nature and structure of human beings, plants, and animals by use of various scientific techniques such as molecular cloning. In simpler language, genetic engineering is the process of DNA addition or modification in an organism to bring about some intended transformation.
The human body comprises of several trillion cells each having a nucleus filled with chromosomes which in turn contain DNA which contains multiple genes which are responsible for determining the unique traits that each one of us possesses. Not only do these genes determine your unique characteristics but they also determine your overall health status ("DNA Medical Uses Of GE Uses Explore More: Genetic Engineering"). It is, therefore, important to have a good understanding of the genetic composition. Having this in mind, genetic research is essential in the detection, prevention and treatment of diseases whose root causes can be traced to genetic abnormalities and mutations. This research is, however, a very complicated phenomenon. Much as scientists have a firm understanding of the genes, and how they affect health, the diseases that are caused by genetic factors are very unpredictable except for a few which have been determined to be caused by genetic mutations and abnormalities. Some people who possess certain genes are highly susceptible to certain diseases that are directly attributed to these particular genes. It is important to carry out genetic research so as to identify diseases and health problems and to assess the possible risk of a particular disease to an individual. These types of research are commonly referred to as genetic tests. A genetic test which confirms that there is a high risk associated with a certain condition will require that an expert in that field to prescribe the preventive measures which will help reduce the possible risk of that particular disease. Reliability of genetic tests is very high, though they will not predict with accuracy whether you will develop a certain disease or not (Dahl 1368-1369). This is because there are some people who will be at a greater risk of a certain medical but will not develop it, but those who did not have such risk factors might end up being affected by the particular disease. Possession of a particular gene does not imply that one will be affected by the conditions which are associated with that gene.
Some while back, genetic engineering was a concept that was talked about only in whispers, with real fears that we would soon be tampering with nature and taking the place of God in deciding whether we would turn out to be blonde or dark haired, whether we would be tall or short or even our level of intelligence. These concerns regarding this field of science are still persistent even at this present day and age, though they are less frequently talked about now than a few years back. This does not, however, mean that genetic engineering has lost its relevance. It has stirred massive controversies from all sides, each strongly condemning or fervently supporting their case. It is a fact that the human body is full of faults and imperfections. Some are filled with unimaginable faults whereas some disintegrate even before their time is due. The good news is that there is potential in science to alter these inherent faults and imperfections. This comes in the form of genetic engineering.
With the help of genetic engineering, some diseases afflicting the human race could be a thing of the past. Most people have witnessed other die of diseases or have lost someone they love through diseases. Very few individuals lie on their beds and peacefully wait for the end of their lives. Our genetic makeup is not as robust and at times mutations directly cause such diseases as fibrosis or make our bodies susceptible to some diseases such as Alzheimers (Arnold). These diseases are triggered by mutations taking place in a single gene. Genetic engineering could be used to deal with that single gene, and such diseases would be something of the past. Fewer families would thus be mourning the loss of their loved ones as a result of such diseases.
With genetic engineering, diseases afflicting young and unborn children can easily be detected and treated. Doctors nowadays have the ability to detect whether a baby who is still in the womb has Downs syndrome, for example. Genetic engineering has eliminated the worry parents and families have of having their babies being born with potentially fatal diseases. Children can now be born healthy and free from diseases and other illnesses. Degenerative diseases that could be passed from parents to children can be prevented with the help of genetic engineering. A parent who has Huntingtons disease, for instance, has a 50 % chance of passing it to his children. Even if they do not suffer from the disease, there is a high likelihood that they will be carriers. No one can stop people from having children simply because they suffer from such diseases. Genetic engineering not only ensures that such children do not suffer from these diseases but that they do not pass on the disease to other generations ("Arguing For And Against Genetic Engineering The Stanford Review").
Human lifespan has increased over the years, thanks in part to improved medical care and genetic engineering. Some diseases can afflict us, unnecessarily cutting short our lives. Genetic engineering has the potential to reverse the bodys natural decline, leading to a longer life span as well as an improved quality of life. Genetic engineering has the potential of making humans easily adapt to certain conditions prevailing in their environment such as global warming. If the prevailing conditions become too hot, for instance, human beings will eventually adapt because of evolutionary adaptabilities. This may, however, take longer to materialize. Genetic engineering can be of great help in making us adapt quickly and better to such conditions.
Genetic engineering has made it possible for the development of pharmaceutical products which are farm much superior to their predecessors. These new products are developed through the process of cloning certain genes. Currently present on the market are bio-engineered insulin which had previously been derived from sheep and cows, as well as the human growth hormone, which in the past was obtained from cadavers. Bio-engineered hormones and blood clotting factors have also been created, thanks to genetic engineering. There is hope that in the future it will be possible to develop plants or fruit varieties which contain certain drugs through the manipulation of their genes in the lab.
Some voices opposed to genetic engineering in human beings argue that the practice might end up limiting childrens abilities to determine their own destinies. This might hold some water. It is also true that the destinies of a vast majority of the people have already been determined by their own genetic makeup, which is inherent and cannot be altered ("Benefits Of Human Genetic Engineering"). A person who is short, for instance, is highly unlikely to be enrolled in the basketball squad because his height automatically disqualifies him from playing with his taller peers. A person who is not attractive will miss the chance of being famous as she might possibly not land the role of a leading actress because such roles are usually reserved for the beautiful and attractive. A kid who has myopia and puts on thick glasses is highly unlikely to be a pilot. Under these scenarios, genetic engineering can be said to help in leveling the playing field. It could be the tool that gives people the innate ability to fulfill their dreams which they would otherwise would not without genetic engineering. Instead of seeing peoples talents going down the drain as a result of a limitation in their genetic makeup, why not just give them the capability to be who they would possibly be without these limitations? If peoples destinies are already predetermined anyway, there is logically no harm in altering their genetic structure to be some better versions of themselves.
Human genetic engineering is a controversial topic, raising strong arguments from either side. Just like any other major scientific invention, it has its own pros and cons. It would, however, be hypocritical to allow fear cripple us from seeing the benefits that can be brought about by human genetic engineering (Dahl 1368-1369). Instead of focusing and amplifying the negative aspects of this new discovery, it would be prudent to exploit it for its positive benefits, as we take appropriate steps to minimize its potentially harmful effects.
"Arguing For And Against Genetic Engineering a The Stanford Review". Stanfordreview.org. N.p., 2007. Web. 19 June 2016.
Arnold, Paul. "Pros And Cons Of Genetic Engineering In Humans". Bright Hub. N.p., 2016. Web. 19 June 2016.
"Benefits Of Human Genetic Engineering". AllAboutPopularIssues.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 19 June 2016.
Dahl, E. "Ethical Issues In New Uses Of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Should Parents Be Allowed To Use Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis To Choose The Sexual Orientation Of Their Children?". Human Reproduction 18.7 (2003): 1368-1369. Web.
"DNA A Medical Uses Of GE A Uses A Explore More: Genetic Engineering". Iptv.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 19 June 2016.
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