GENETICS. Definition, uses, disadvantages, advantages of selective breeding, genetic engineering, cloning and artificial insemination.

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A) SELECTIVE (ARTIFICIAL BREEDING)

Definition: Selective breeding is when the plants/animals from the existing stock that have the characteristics they want are selected and are allowed to breed. The offspring will hopefully display the characteristics which are required. The best offspring are then bred from, until all offspring display the characteristics that are wanted. This leads to new breeds of animal being produced.

Uses:

* High yielding crops, such as wheat are produced by collecting the seeds from only the plants that have a good yield of wheat.

* Disease resistant crops can be developed.

* Animals on farms are bred so that they produce more food, e.g. cows with better meat, hens that lay more eggs.

* Animals such as dogs and cats are bred for fashion. They may also be bred to do a particular job (e.g. sheepdogs).

Advantage: Humans will get the breed of a plant or animal that has all the characteristics that they want when they can manipulate it to their liking. This could be used for several purposes, and could assist humans greatly.

Disadvantage: There are many ethical concerns where people claim that we are 'acting as God' and it is somehow immoral. There is also the risk of mutation which could lead to unwanted consequences.

Impact on society: The impact on society will depend on to the extent of where the manipulation of plants and animals is taken. If it is generally mild, the majority of society may accept it, however there are also ethical issues involved and religious groups could be strongly against it.

B) GENETIC ENGINEERING

Definition: Genetic Engineering is the alteration of an organism's genetic, or hereditary, material to eliminate undesirable characteristics or to produce desirable new ones.

Uses: Genetic engineering is used to increase plant and animal food production; to help dispose of industrial wastes; and to diagnose disease, improve medical treatment, and produce vaccines and other useful drugs.

Advantage: Whatever is altered, it may look more appealing. It could also reduce the amount of mutation that is found in animals. This could assist humans.

Disadvantage: Animal rights groups have argued that the production of transgenic animals is harmful to other animals. Genetically engineered fish raise problems if they interbreed with other fish that have not been genetically altered.

Transgenic plants also present controversial issues. Allergens can be transferred from one food crop to another through genetic engineering.

Impact on society: Once again, Genetic engineering will advantage society however there are always disadvantages. If this is done on animals, and if something goes wrong, the humans who ate it could possibly get sick, but this is only one example.

C) CLONING

Definition: Cloning is the production of one or more individual plants or animals (whole or in part) that are genetically identical to an original plant or animal.

Use: Children who are in desperate need of organs such as a kidney, or bone marrow transplant if cloning were an option. The parents could choose to clone the child in order to produce another human being to donate whatever is needed.

Advantage: Cloning could offer a way for infertile couples a way to reproduce, when otherwise could not. It could offer the gift of life to those who might not be able to obtain it by other means.

Disadvantage: There is the risk of abuse of the technology. What would Hitler have done with cloning technology if it was available in the 1940's? There are powerful leaders in every generation who will seek to abuse this technology for their purposes. Going head with cloning technology makes this far more likely.

Impact on society: Cloning is probably the most controversial. It would impact society greatly and cause confusion, that is, if it is legalized. It could lead to all types of consequences, and if someone took advantage of this, clones may not be treated equally...
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