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Freddy Billowes

Is genetic engineering a worthwhile scientific development?


Every living thing has DNA. In humans (among other things), DNA is used to code for every genetic characteristic that will be exhibited. A persons DNA will be a 50/50 mix of their parents DNA, along with slight mutations (caused by a number of things, such as background radiation). Naturally, this means that it plays a big part in life. As science has developed, we are now able to manipulate the genetic coding of plants/animals through replacing certain sections of the DNA with alternative strands. One example of this is insulin production by removing a cell from a human body, we can extract the part of the gene that codes to make insulin, and put into fast -replicating bacteria, all through the use of enzymes. These bacteria then reproduce exponentially, producing large quantities of insulin, perfect for use by humans, meaning people suffering with diabetes no longer have to use insulin produced by cows or pigs which is often unreliable and expensive. As the bacteria produce so much insulin, cost is driven down, meaning the medicine is available to more people who need it. Another example of genetic engineering is by adding or removing characteristics in plants, such as making them more suitable for growth in places of drought, or giving them a natural pesticide, helping to fight food shortages in third world countries, such as Africa. However, some people may say that manipulating genes is unnatural and playing God. Clearly, these people do not understand that unnatural describes almost everything we do in our day to day lives. Our current trends in writing, reading, society, sleeping patterns, technology and many other things could easily be described as unnatural. If unnatural is taken as bad and natural as good, then I suggest that these people may like to try living off fox gloves and castor beans for the rest of their (possibly shortened) lives. Some people may say to this that if humans do something, then it is natural. This would then make their argument redundant, as well as the fact that genetic engineering and even cloning has been occurring for centuries (albeit in simpler ways) such as by breeding animals for specific traits or taking plant clippings. As to people spouting the playing God argument, surely the persons claiming to be religious would understand the value of a human life and that letting someone die due to a serious condition such as haemophilia, cancer or even Huntington's disease because of an opposition to gene therapy would be a crime akin to manslaughter. Clearly then, genetic engineering could only be assessed as a benefit to mankind, and if more scientific research were to be made, we will be able to solve more and more problems with day to day life, ending things like famine and disease.