Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering

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There are many benefits of genetic engineering, but there are many risks too. Genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of genetic material in order to alter the hereditary traits of a cell, organism, or population. Basically, scientists take DNA of one product and put it into another product to get a mixture of traits from both products. It’s like breeding different breeds of dogs to get a certain look or personality. Some people don’t mind what goes into genetically altered foods, while others feel uncomfortable with the idea of eating any of it. The effects that genetic engineering has on the environment, living organisms and the product being engineered have been widely talked about up until the last few years where the amount of discussion going on about this topic has dropped immensely. For this reason this paper contains older information that I find to still be a valid outlook on what genetic engineering has in store for us. As with many other topics of debate, there are two big sides to the controversy of genetically engineered foods: people who believe they are unsafe, and those who think they cause no harm. Many people believe that eating genetically altered foods is “unnatural” and dangerous. If the product was not originally meant to have a different gene in it, then it shouldn’t have it now. One fear about genetic engineered crops is that growing them will get out of hand. While federal rules require farmers to plant a certain percentage of non-genetically engineered corn alongside any pest-resistant corn, an estimated 21 percent of farmers are not following those rules (The Nation’s Health. 2010. Pg.6). Farmers are putting too much reliability on modified crops. While so many people dislike the idea of genetically engineered foods, there hasn’t been any research that specifically states any negative effects of them. Sure, if a tomato is altered with peanut genes, it’s risky for people with peanut allergies to eat that tomato, but eating genetically altered foods hasn’t been proven to mutate one’s genes, make them sick or turn their skin weird colors. A study by a man named Arpad Pusztai claimed that some people who ate genetically modified potatoes suffered organ damage. After only 10 days of eating the wonder spud, which now produced its own pesticide, the rats suffered from damaged immune systems and organs. The pesticide wasn't the problem because rats (and humans) have been eating it in perfect safety in foods where it naturally occurs. The problem must have been due to the process of genetic engineering itself, it was the biggest shock of Dr Pusztai's life. (Smith, page 74.) However, the article, The Lanclet, that published the study also, critiqued it, stating that the experiments were incomplete, included too few animals per diet group, and lacked controls. So the conclusion that the potatoes were dangerous was not relevant. Pusztai was then sacked for publicizing research which hadn't been peer-reviewed (Wooster, 2001, pg.1). As this article proves, even though there have been small experiments trying to prove the dangers of genetically altered foods, they are just speculations as to what could potentially be the effect of genetically altered foods. In an article about Transgenic Crops, some of the risks they listed included antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, eating foreign DNA, and changed nutrient levels (Soil and Crop Sciences, 2004, pg.1). Can eating genetically altered foods raise the dangers of allergic reactions? Will they make our bodies more resistance to antibiotics? Can it destroy our DNA in any way? While all these questions are being studied for answers, there is no proof that the answer is “yes” to any of them. It is all speculation right now and probably will be for a long time. On the other hand, there are many people who believe that there is nothing wrong with genetically altered foods; they can be good for us, even. Scientists are trying to use genetic altering...
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