Is the technological progress in genetic engineering (in areas like food, health or chemistry) a threat or an opportunity? Here we discuss the issues.
Debate proposed by Pete Pajuheimo
We are discussing genetic engineering food in another debate, let's focus now on the technology that allows it possible. Men have been using Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) technologies since 1972, when United States Biochemists Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen used enzymes to cut a bacteria plasmid and insert another strand of DNA in the gap. Since then, genetic engineer technologies have helped us achieving many milestones in the fields of biology, medical sciences and chemistry. For example founding and utilization of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-gene is helping us in the fight against cancer and in the study of biology in a more precise manner. In field of chemistry, these technologies have helped in the development of bacteria that can produce oil from atmospheric CO. Biologists can use genetic engineer technologies to improve our crops by, for example, altering the vitamin/nutrition composition to make it more suitable for human consumption. Many scientists think there is great promise in GMO technologies and that much more can be achieved through these technologies in the future.
Genetic engineering pros and cons: threat or opportunity?
However, GMO technologies bring also important threats as well as legal and ethical issues that are far from being resolved. Some of the common cited risks are those of the development of mixed artificial species, or human engineering. Opponents to genetic engeneering warn of possible scenarios concerning runaway genes in our and other living organisms nature causing unexpected outcomes or the long term effects that the consumption of genetically modified food (GMF) may have on humans. What about parents or governments chosing the personality of the children? Although many within the scientific community dismiss these fears and risks, further research on GMO and its risks as well as improved and more transparent communication between the big laboratories behind GMO and the public is probably needed to improve the level of trust that the public have on these genetic engineering research and technologies.
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Is technological progress in genetic engineering mostly a threat or an opportunity?
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