In a world where scientists have evolved into creators and not mere created individuals, a civilization where technology has been a means to achieve every kind of magic and/or miracle, one cannot but question the effects of these things' technology as provoked into the society.
To understand the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering, one must be aware of the fact that genetic engineering isn’t just in the altering and modification of specific DNAs in plants and animals; it extends to the altering and modification of DNAs in humans to attain a distinct outcome.
The advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering are epitomized in directions which humans have enjoyed while its disastrous effect has also had wild implications on the human race, the environment and the world at large.
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering can be described as the act of intentional and calculated alteration of genes with a focus on specific outcomes. That is, it’s a process that allows the structure of genes to be modified deliberately through direct manipulation of the genetic element of any organism; plant or animals.
The process through which this is done is via molecular cloning or transformation. This is hence a total transition in a specific trait of plants, animals or an individual to another as the scientist will.
Before this civilization, genetic engineering was limited to plants and animals, however, it has been extended to human treatment of diseases or illness and it has even been fashioned into the attempt of extending the lifespan of humans.
Genetic engineering influences human civilization, an influence that has been characterized by both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Genetic Engineering
One of the notorious advantages of genetic engineering is the safety agricultural practices that have been manifested. Decades ago, farmers spend countless times on fields to manually eliminate threats from their crops, plants, and animals.
With the advent of genetic engineering, the use of heavy herbicides and pesticides for plants to kill plant pests and maximize agricultural produce has been invented.
Further, the innovation of genetic engineering in plants has yielded a safe atmosphere for the farmer to work while it has also created healthier soils while reducing the risk of groundwater and soil contamination of pesticides and herbicides.
Another significance of genetic engineering is the creation of greater yield in plants. While protecting crops, farmers can maximize yields through the scientific application of pesticides and herbicides.
With the manipulation of a plant’s DNA, a special tree can yield more fruits while vegetables can have a boosted growth.
Genetic engineering permits a faster growth rate. Let’s take the broiler as an example. This chicken bird has a history of long-span slaughter age. In the European Union in 1925, the slaughter age was 110 days. In 1925 however, it reduced to 85 days.
Today, the slaughter age for broilers has rapidly dropped to 42 days while in the United States, it has dropped to 47 days. Genetic engineering has proved to increase the rate of maturity in both plants and animals. The maturity outside natural growth has been favorable as the consumption of food and animals has increased and made easy.
In couple with the above, extended life can be created. Genetic engineering permits plants and animal resistance to death organisms which domestic plants and animals are prone to be infected with. With pesticides, for example, a plant doesn’t collapse due to pest invasion on it. More so on animals, specific traits can be modified to ensure the longevity of an animal.
While genetic engineering permits specific traits to be developed, new products are also being created. Attractive traits exist in both plants and animals and it can be modified for human use and consumption.
Animal DNAs can be modified to be more productive with special breeds producing enormous milk while growing muscle tissue. Animals can also be modified into producing different coats and skin, hence, permitting the production of various ranges of fabric.
While this is in effect, new products that diversify existing products are created. With animals which could produce enormous milk at once, or different coats or skin type, the combined profiles through cloning allows the diversity of products.
The advantages of genetic engineering may appear endless, however, the disadvantages are aching and disastrous as well.
Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering
Since genetic modification has been applied to human beings after civilization sophistication and technological enlightenment, the question of what is right has risen from religious, moral and ethical perspectives. Genetic engineering creates plants, animals, even humans, those God hasn’t created.
Genetic engineering also increases lifespan, permits fighting of diseases which have been in existence since time immemorial, diseases which have been expressed to play its course in human society. With these considerations, the disadvantages of genetic engineering will also be regarded.
Genetic engineering technology can be abused. With the sophistication of this civilization, scientists can go at any length to prove an idea. DNAs of an organism, for example, a pig, which gross number of people may be allergic to, can be inserted into a plant, for instance, corn. If this plant is produced, there will be allergic triggers in man which could lead to unpredictable consequences.
Also, it may have negative consequences while interacting with other natural and domestic species. Knowing that an artificial plant or animal likes dominating, and they are often ‘wilding’, such an organism can take from domestic organisms and indirectly ruin the biology of such organisms.
Also, genetic engineering leads to unexpected negative results. Dolly the Sheep is the acclaimed first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cells. However, before the eventual creation of Dolly the Sheep, 277 attempts failed. That is 277 loss of natural organisms.
Further, while trying to ensure that plants can resist drought, priority isn’t expended to the fact that resistance of such plants to direct sunlight can be affected. And without adaptability to sunlight, the transpiration process of such a plant will be weakened which could eventually lead to its wither.
It should be emphasized that with the intent of creating diversity in plant and animals, limitations in diversity becomes the effect of genetic engineering. As genetic engineering creates special plants and animals with striking features, other natural plants and animals are sidelined. That is, with special and rapid produce from Cavendish banana, other types of banana gained limited global sales. Also, with the vast production of navel oranges, other types of oranges aren't recognized as they were generations ago.
An important disadvantage is the copyright of genetic engineering on plants and animals in the US. When the DNA sequence of any organism is patented, and such plant grows into another farmer’s field because of its uncontrolled and uncontained growth range, the farmer may lose his field because he isn’t copyrighted to grow such plants.
In some cases in Europe and North America however, property owners have been charged with the payment of royalties and compensation for product loss to farmers because their engineered organisms have become a liability and threat to.
Conclusively, genetic engineering doesn't guarantee higher nutritional values. Today's broilers have lost the amount of protein that consumed a generation ago. Chicken has 200% additional fats which have reduced protein levels and overall nutrient levels.
Also, pathogens adapt to new cloned genetic profiles. Technically, bacteria and viruses exist only in these organisms. Hence, when cloned organisms are created to resist certain pests, bacteria and viruses in such pests also create resistance to the resistance of such organisms. At this, pathogens become stronger and resistant than they should and this could create a future potential threat against humanity, plants, and animals.
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