Genetic Engineering: a Great Scientific Discovery Essay
- October 14, 2021/
More than likely, everyone has heard a teenager describe what they want their first born to look like exactly. From sex to eye color, they have it all planned out. Years after that, they soon realize they have no control over how their child will look. Until recently, genetics was a thing of chance and parents had no control over what set of genes a child would get from their parent. Genetic engineering has been an idea since early 12,000 BC. At that point in history, the science behind genetic engineering was very primitive. This technology not called genetic engineering, but rather it was called genetic recombination. Genetic recombination is when a section of a gene is replaced by another variant from the same location in a different DNA model (Crossing-Over).
One of the first milestones to start the beginning of genetic engineering was Watson and Crick’s discovery of the DNA structure in 1953. What is known today as genetic engineering first originated in 1972 by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1972(GNN). Boyer and Cohen claimed they had organisms that could construct and replicate DNA sequences from other species. This discovery sparked a race by scientists to be able to advance genetic engineering technology.
Boyer and Cohen began their studies by altering the genetic makeup of E-Coli. Up until this point, biotechnology had mainly been used for food. After Boyer and Cohen’s discovery, genetic engineering began to be used on different organisms and eventually humans. Genetic engineering is still commonly used for farming purposes. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are found in nearly every aisle of most grocery stores in America. Although there is some controversy over whether or not GMOs are safe for consumption, the idea of altering the genetic makeup of a tomato seed so the tomatoes grow to be larger and riper is a very impressive one, especially since scientists have successfully accomplished it.
Genetic engineering is a touchy topic for some people because they view that it may eventually have more of a negative effect on the human race than a positive one. The idea of engineering the perfect baby has been around decades before Boyer and Cohen’s discovery. The first successful use of frozen sperm was in 1953, the same year that DNA structure was discovered. Although the actual process of using a sperm donor and genetic engineering are very different, they end up coming down to the same basic idea. When a woman picks a sperm donor, she gets to know everything about the male the sperm is coming from. She not only gets to know extensive information about his personal and familial medical history and his physical appearance but she also gets to know the donor’s interests and religious values.
Many people who are against genetic engineering believe tend to think only of this science being abused and used to create what a parent would call their perfect baby. However, this is not entirely false. Parents could use this technology to create their perfect baby, but that does not have to mean appearance wise. Genetic engineering can be used to alter eye color, hair color, and other physical traits, it can also be used to make sure a child does not have high cholesterol, hemophilia or even HIV.
Through the use of genetic engineering over time many diseases can be eliminated entirely. For instance, when scientists alter a person’s genes to prevent them from having HIV, they delete the gene that carries HIV which makes that person’s genes similar to the 1% of the population that is resistant to HIV. If this person has kids with someone else who has the genes resistant to HIV, their offspring will also have this set of genes to pass down for generations to come. If the person has kids with someone else who does not have the HIV resistant genes then their offspring has a chance to carry the non-resistant genes and a chance to carry the resistant genes. Over time, the more people that have this genetic engineering done, the more common the resistance to HIV will become.
This concept is similar to how animals adapt over time, however, the process is kickstarted at the beginning with the gene alteration. Although this process is not entirely natural, it is mimicking of the adaptation process that species are going through constantly. With bad genes removed, often times the lifespan of that species increases. Also, some diseases are not directly linked to a shorter lifespan, however, they can be linked to other problems such as depression. With the removal or alteration of some gene sequences, entire aspects of a person’s life can be changed.
Genetic engineering is a great accomplishment in modern science. However, as with all great things, there need to be some limitations. Since many people are concerned about genetic engineering being abused and not used for medically beneficial purposes, a good compromise would be for before genetic engineering is made openly available and affordable to the public, laws should be put in place to restrict what the technology can and cannot be used for.
If the restriction is put in place that genetic engineering may only be used in circumstances that will benefit the child’s medical health, this will prevent the science from being overused and abused. Similar to how the FDA must approve and certify that a product is, in fact, organic before labeling it as such, a government organization could be put in place to approve cases where someone is wanting to use genetic engineering. The funding to support the organization can come from the clients applying for approval. This could ensure that each specific case is looked over and is a valid reason to use the technology.
Although the idea of having each person pay for their own approval raises the concern that genetic engineering will then only be another way that the higher class can separate themselves further from people of lower class. Since people with a greater amount of wealth will have the opportunity to eventually be free of all genetic diseases this will not only increase their lifespan but eventually increase their wealth even more due to the lower amount of medical bills and the greater amount of time they would be able to work to make more money. Citizens of lower classes would then be left behind from the new technology without the money to afford genetic engineering.
There are many different theories for how this potential separation of the classes can be avoided, each of which would need to be weighed and considered thoroughly before implementation. Because of these various challenges and potential concerns, it is best that the government gets involved and sets up rules and regulations for genetic engineering before making it an easily accessible process.
A great scientific discovery, such as genetic engineering is not one that can be done entirely by one scientist. Many projects like this build upon research done even decades before a scientist’s time. With the innovative technology used for genetic engineering, scientists hope to be able to not only increase the average lifespan of humans but also improve the quality of life. One can not deny that genetic engineering is a science that can lead to the future of technology and the human race, however, it is one that needs to be controlled before it is abused. It is better to allow genetic engineering within reason than to try to deny it from citizens entirely. The science has been released and it is a known concept, so making it illegal will only lead to people practicing the technology illegally, and, more than likely, dangerously.