What are the pros and cons to genetic engineering?

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trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By utilizing genetic engineering, genes can be transferred from one organism to another using a vector. This is done because the gene product is something that can be used in the field of medicine, or in a food product, etc. Some positive things that have come out of genetic engineering include: producing vaccines in cow's milk, or in food crops that can be easily administered to people by simply eating the food! Insulin and growth hormone can be easily produced by genetically modifying bacteria which go on to reproduce rapidly making a large supply of these drugs available to the public. In the past, insulin was obtained from other mammals' pancreas--a costly and inefficient process. Sometimes plants are genetically modified to allow them to grow in climates they might not normally grow in, or to enhance their nutritional value. In medical research, by isolating a mutated gene that causes a disease in humans, in lab animals, they can shut it down and study the progeny to find treatments or cures in the offspring. Gene therapies are used in people to treat diseases that have a genetic cause. These therapies attempt to change or replace genes that are causing a disease. Some negatives that relate to genetic engineering include: some religious scholars feel that people don't have the right to modify other living things from a religious standpoint, that people shouldn't be able to patent their biological ideas regarding a life form, that perhaps someday this will be used to enhance traits unrelated to health, that the native crops will diminish and the genetically modified crops will replace them, that strains of animals will created solely for the purpose of research, that we don't know the effect of eating genetically modified food--it is too new to know everything. There is a large list of pros and cons for genetic engineering and only time will tell whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

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