Travis Van Easteren
26 February 2014
Imagine a world where autism and downs syndrome are a thing of the past, and where there is no shortage on food for anybody. Over the years mankind has developed and improved technology to save more and more lives through the manipulation of the DNA that makes up all living organisms. However, there are those who oppose this approach. Despite the risks and ethical concerns, genetic engineering holds the potential to benefit humanity through both direct and indirect means.
In the past genetic engineering has been used on crops and humans alike with great success. A few years ago there was a study that “concluded that the biotech varieties increased the state’s food and fiber production by more than 10 million pounds, improved farm income by nearly $33 million, and reduced pesticide used by 776,000 pounds annually” (Hammerstrom 124). It is also worth noting that “most soybeans planted have been genetically engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate” (Roleff 11). These modifications allow the soybeans to grow without danger of suffering destruction along with weeds. The benefits that arose from previous use of genetic engineering expand beyond plant life as well. Human lives have directly benefited through direct manipulation of the human genome as well. An example of said benefits includes a case where “gene therapy has been used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease” (Roleff 43), as a result people’s lives are dramatically improved as they no longer suffer from impaired motor skills and speech. Genetic engineering also contains the potential of allowing mankind the chance to have “a mind that could learn more quickly, or having a more robust immune system” (Bostrom 26). These are merely a few examples of the ways genetic engineering has benefited mankind.
However, despite the great benefits genetic engineering poses, the risks are equally great as well. If the modification is performed improperly the damage inflicted could prove to be irreversible. At one point when testing on animals it has been shown that “germline introduction of an improperly regulated normal gene resulted in pogency of the modified animal with no obvious effects on development, but enhanced tumor incidence during adult life” (Hall 162). Along with the fact that “although such methods may be undertaken to fabricate improved humans, in some cases, by accident or intent, the outcomes will be quasi-human or less than human” (Hall 164) people are hesitant to make this method of medicine wide spread. Another reason why people are worried about the mass populace utilizing this technology is due to the fact that some may consider it “a satanic act of disbelief and corruption that would change the nature with which God created human beings” (Sachedina 190). Other ethical concerns may include the “deep-seated fear of the further deterioration of social and familial values” (Sachedina 192) that could possibly occur through the overuse of cloning and genetic engineering technology. As a result of these factors concerned individuals have spoken out against the use of such technologies in favor of safer and more commonly accepted methods of curing the ill and providing crops for harvest.
Using pre-existing methods and playing it safe will only take humanity so far though. Sometimes risks are required in order to create true progress and enable mankind to make great leaps to a brighter future. The possibilities of this technology include the potential that “within 5 to 10 years replacement kidneys will be possible; within 10 to 15 years liver replacement will be a reality. Eventually, entire hearts can be made for reimplantation” (Haseltine 37). As a matter of fact, “with this new information in hand, drugs can be developed to inhibit inflammation for viral infection, possibly even to stop AIDS” (Haseltine 35). As a result of these possibilities it can be said with a...
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