Genetic Engineering: Science and Profit

     In modern times, it seems that humans have revolutionized our lives to a point where we have become a species solely dependent on our innovation and technology. Can you even imagine your life right now if the computer in which you are currently staring at or the cell phone that’s probably right next to you was nonexistent? Well luckily for you, we humans are a greedy bunch, and we company workers would not dare to have you lose your cell phone or computer, because if you had no computer or phone, there would be no internet or phone bills to pay, resulting in us having no money. Clearly, a man’s desire to make a revolutionary discovery—whether scientific or technological—is fueled by the thought of how much money he would make off of it. In other words, science is made possible by profit.

     The 21st century is a time of great technological innovation. Scientists today are discovering countless spectacular scientific breakthroughs that would have been deemed unfathomable only a couple years ago.

What is Genetic Engineering?

     The phenomenon of genetic engineering is only one of the countless recent discoveries, but is definitely one of the most revolutionary ones. Genetic engineering is a mechanism used by scientists to change the DNA of a living organism. The DNA of an organism acts as its blueprint which is the deciding factor for its life, growth, and other unique features and functions. The DNA segments that are associated with a specific trait are called its genes.
     Biologists have now discovered certain enzymes that function in cutting and joining DNA strands. Through these enzymes, scientists are able to remove specific genes and incorporated into different DNA. Another important discovery, called vectors, is strands of DNA commonly found in viruses that are able to insert itself into a host’s DNA. Through this newfound knowledge, scientists are able to identify and insert new genes into an organism, giving it new traits.

Example of Genetic Engineering

     Tomatoes are a fast-growing crop that is high in nutrients, but are also very sensitive to frost. Alternatively, scientists have identified a gene found in the genome of a flounder that allows it to be resistant to the cold. With the use of vectors and enzymes, the cold-resistant gene of the flounder has been inserted into a tomato, allowing it to grow during the cold climate. The genes are incorporated into the tomato so well that is able to give rise to offspring with the same genes.
Bananafish is high in potassium and omega-3.

Human Genetic Engineering

     Genetic engineering is not limited only to plants, but has many promises on humans as well. With today’s scientific advances, genetic engineering can be used to eliminate the chances of a baby developing such disorders as cystic fibrosis, and Huntington’s disease, life threatening diseases carried by a single gene. Since, it is now possible for children to avoid having fatal diseases or any other genetic complexities, why is it that human genetic engineering is not yet used commonly among newborn babies? Well, consider the nuclear arms race for a second. In 1945, when America released the first two atomic bombs that the world had ever seen, it instigated a global race among all developed countries to create as much nuclear weaponry as possible. Now, all nations throughout the world have enough atomic bombs to destroy the whole planet five times over. As goes with human genetic engineering, if it is begun at a wide scale, there might be no limit as to how much humans will genetically alter their descendents. The primary modifications might presage other tests to create designer babies based on optimal IQ, athletic ability, and physical appearance. If overused, this technology could reinforce existing inequalities and levels of discrimination. Even parents opposed to manipulating their children would feel compelled to follow the trend to assure that their offspring will not be at a disadvantage.

Profit in Genetic Engineering

     In terms of molecular biology, genetic engineering is currently the most profitable discovery. The most profit made using this technology is through the genetic modification of crops. Farmers around the world are maximizing their revenue through the genetically engineered crops that have become larger, more resistant to climate and herbicides, and in some cases, richer in nutrients. As an example of how farmers everywhere are taking advantage of this income-raising mechanism, approximately 89% of soybeans produced in the United States have been genetically modified to be resistant to certain herbicides. Farmers can now treat their land with herbicides which kill off all the burdensome weeds that absorb water and nutrients that the soybean would have otherwise had. This gives rise to larger and healthier soybeans, which means more money for the farmers.

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Page Created by Tin Vu
Last Updated: 6/2/10 at 9:08 P.M. PST