A Benefit Of Genetic Engineering

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Disease, drought, malnutrition, pests, malfunctioning genes are all factors are all problems that society faces. Only until recently a new method of solving these problems was discovered, genetic engineering. Genetic engineering refers to the process of manipulating an organism’s DNA to change its traits.

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This practice can be applied to plants, animals, and humans. It is utilized to remove or change undesirable traits and replace with desirable ones. Since the last century this tool has been discovered and has considerably improved since. Now genetically modified crops are grown regularly and their harvest sold in stores. Human and animal genes adjusted and genetic diseases such as Huntington’s or Sickle Cell Anemia might see the end of their days. Now scientists are no longer asking themselves Can we? but instead Should we? The science community and law makers are faced with the ethicality of genetic engineering and the decision of where the line is drawn.

Genetic engineering comes with dangers and should be handled cautiously, but ultimately benefits society in a variety of ways. It is important to note the history and applications of genetic engineering to understand its ethical and social ramifications. Before history had even been recorded farmers have been using genetic engineering techniques in agriculture to produce the most productive plants. This genetic engineering technique is formally known as artificial selection to produce desirable characteristics. Corn as we know it today growing tall with large ears and plentiful kernels began as a wild grass with very few kernels. This technique doesn’t end with plants it includes animals as well for higher quality meat, wool, or purpose. Charles Darwin originally coined the term artificial selection in his book On the Origin of Species. Darwin claimed that man and his powers of artificial selection can do so much that there may be no limit to the amount of change for all organic complexes (Darwin, 109). The pursuit of modern genetic engineering as a direct manipulation of an organism’s genes begins with the discovery of deoxyribonucleic acid; DNA.

While the nucleus of a cell was the first organelle to be discovered, scientists for hundreds of years believed that proteins themselves held the genetic material to replicate. It wasn’t until the work of Walter Sutton and Theodor Boveri that identified chromosomes as the carriers of genetic material. DNA is composed of four bases each pairing to its corresponding base known as the pairing rule. These bases come together and form a double-helix structure, this was first proposed by Francis Crick and James Watson in their published paper in 1953 called the Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids (Francis and Crick, 1953). The birth of modern genetic engineering came to life after Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen created the first successful genetic engineered organism in 1973.

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