Effect of Genetic Engineering

 Genetic engineering is the development and application of scientific methods, procedures, and technologies that permit direct manipulation of genetic material in order to alter the heredity traits of a cell, organism, or population (dictionary.com). Genetic engineering plays a major role in the fields of agriculture and medicine by increasing the efficiency of crop yields and revolutionizing treatment options for diseases.        

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One way genetic engineering can be used in agriculture is by creating a crop’s resistance to insects. One of the leading companies in genetic engineering field is Monsanto and they have found a way to increase a plant’s resistance to pests using a bacteria called Bacillus thuriensis (Monsanto). The plants that contain this sequence produce specific proteins that protect them against the harmful pests that could destroy them.        

Another way agriculture is made more efficient through genetic engineering is weed killers that help the crops get the necessary nutrients, sunlight, and water. Herbicides like Roundup contain glyphosate which blocks an important enzyme pathway called the shikimic acid pathway (Henderson). This pathway is necessary for plants because it metabolizes carbohydrates and some amino acids (Kougan).         Genetic engineering can also be used in the field of medicine. Humulin is a type of genetically modified insulin that helps treat diabetes (Your Genome). It is created by first extracting a plasmid from a bacteria or yeast cell. A section is cut out of the plasmid and the human insulin gene is inserted. The plasmid is put into new bacteria or yeast cell which divides to start making insulin. It is put into fermentation vessels to speed up the process and when it is done fermenting it is filtered to release the insulin. It is then purified and packaged so it can be distributed.        

Human growth hormone can also be produced through genetic engineering. This hormone can be used to treat dwarfism. It used to be extracted from human cadavers, but this could cause the recipient to get Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, a human form of Mad Cow Disease (Brennen). Human growth hormone can be produced by taking tissue from the pituitary gland and isolating the mRNA that codes for the human growth hormone (Brennen). Scientists then take the mRNA and use it as a template to make complimentary DNA that gets added to a plasmid from a bacteria cell (Brennen). The plasmid is then placed into a bacteria cell and grown in a culture (Brennen). The human growth hormone is made and gets isolated so it can be used (Brennen).         

Genetic engineering seems like the solution to many problems, from agriculture to medicine, but with it comes some concerns. One of these is that the diversity of the human race will begin to diminish (Andrew, Patra). If all bad genes are replaced with good ones, people will begin to have similar genotypes (Andrew, Patra). This could cause problems because there could be one disease that could kill the entire human population if no one has the gene to survive it (Andrew, Patra). Another concern is that when a gene is inserted into an organism, the effects cannot be reversed (Andrew, Patra). If the result of the genetic engineering creates a negative trait, there is nothing that can be done to get rid of it. Also, if a gene from one food is inserted into another, it could pass allergens from that food to another (Andrew, Patra). Someone who is allergic to peanuts or wheat could have an allergic reaction to a food that naturally would not have that allergen in it. A final concern that some people might have is a moral concern. If human genes are put into crops and our food products, is anyone who eats genetically modified food considered a cannibal (Andrew, Patra)? Even if someone is a vegetarian, they could still be eating food that contains human genes.         

My concerns for genetic engineering include those mentioned before. I think that genetic engineering should only be used to treat diseases and not in our food supply. In my opinion, this reduces the risk for exposure to allergens in unexpected food products and eliminates the debate of whether or not eating foods containing human genes is considered cannibalism. I also believe that more research needs to be done before genetic engineering is widely used because we do not know the full extent of its effects yet.        

Genetic engineering could benefit the human race in many aspects, but it also comes with risks. It can be used in agriculture to increase a crop’s resistance to pests and to kill weeds that may take away vital resources or in medicine to treat diabetes or dwarfism, but it can also minimize the diversity of the human race and its effects cannot be reversed. This leaves each individual to make the decision for themselves of whether genetic engineering should be utilized or not and to what extent should it be used.

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Effect Of Genetic Engineering. (2019, Jul 09). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from
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