Genetically Modified Organisms
Majority of developments in scientific disciplines requires stringent measures to be put in place in order to facilitate the carrying out of procedures that are conducted in the science laboratories. The application of these procedures has brought with it the emergence of a number of technologies that have contributed greatly in improving the well being of the human race. Genetic engineering is one such technology. Genetic engineering is widely spread around the globe and has a wide range of application in almost all walks of life. Some of the areas where the technology is applied include:-Criminology, identification of parentage, diagnostics, gene sequencing and biotechnology industry. The use of the technology in the scientific world provides no barrier to any scientist in that field provided he has a vested interest in it due to its high level of advancement.
The technique has been in existence for several years and its use has been met with a lot of arguments regarding its safety. It has emerged that, despite the many benefits that come along with the technology, there are some serious effects that are associated with the technology making it to remain debatable in many societies. This fact has made many nations to prohibit the use of genetically modified products due to the adverse negative effects that come along with their use. On the other hand, scientists are working tirelessly to advance in their knowledge of genetic engineering, which is characterized by a new breakthrough in the field of genetic engineering in almost everyday. The extensive scientific research in genetic engineering have allowed a better understanding of DNA and its role in medicine, pharmacology, reproductive technology, animal and plant breeding and many other fields.
The use of genetic engineering in various fields is an emerging issue that has been hotly debated in many nations. Opponents of genetic engineering claim that the technique has the potential of causing some adverse effects in the long run. On the other hand, proponents of this technology claim that it has the ability to solve some of the major problems that affect man kind in today’s modern world. Due to this fact, one would therefore find it interesting to analyze some of its benefits in order to determine whether it is really beneficial or it is just of no important use to man kind.
In human medicine, one of the major benefits of genetic engineering is gene therapy. The technique is aimed at treating defective genes in the human genome by either deleting them or adding new genes in the genome. This has made it possible to treat many autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, hereditary diseases and other diseases that involve any damage in the genome. With this technique in place, there is a high possibility of eliminating all genetic defects and other non-genetic diseases.
The other application of genetic engineering that has come with unquantifiable benefits is its use in the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, the pharmaceutical products that are in use are far much superior to those which were in use before the advent of genetic engineering. A classical example is the insulin that is in use today. Before genetic engineering was put in place, insulin used to be obtained from cows pancreas which meant that lot of cows had to be slaughtered in order to obtain enough insulin to diabetic patients. With genetic engineering, it only requires that the gene responsible for the production of insulin is cloned in suitable host bacterial and numerous copies of the gene are produced to code for sufficient insulin to treat diabetic patients. Other than insulin, other proteins of therapeutic importance that are obtained through genetic engineering include interferon which acts as an antiviral agent, human growth hormone for the treatment of hypo pituitary dwarfs, various types of vaccines.
In the agricultural sector, genetic engineering is doing great. It has improved the genetic fitness of various plant species to cope with the adverse environmental conditions such as drought, salinity, pest and disease that threaten the survival of the plant species.
Genetically modified plants have been generated to resist frost through the insertion of an antifreeze gene from cold water fish has been introduced into plants such as tobacco and potato. With this antifreeze gene, these plants are able to tolerate cold temperatures that normally would kill unmodified seedlings.
Drought resistant plants have also been developed. As the world population grows and more land is utilized for housing instead of food production, farmers are forced to cultivate in locations which were previously unsuited for plant cultivation. This is only achievable through the use of genetically modified plants.
Malnutrition is common in African countries which are faced by hunger and poverty where impoverished peoples rely in single crop such as rice as their staple diet. Due to this fact, scientists have been forced to come up with an interventional measure to alleviate the problem of malnutrition through the generation of genetically modified food crops that will provide added nutrients.
There are many viruses, fungi and bacteria that cause plant diseases. Plant biologists have therefore come up with genetically modified plants that are resistant to these disease causative agent.
Many plant varieties have been engineered using inbuilt toxin production capability against pests. This factor makes plant to resist pests which are harmful to them. Examples are the transgenic crops that have been developed by introducing toxins from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis.
In animal production, a number of animals have been genetically modified have been generated to meet a certain need. Most of the genetically modified animals are aimed at increasing their productivity, increasing their growth rates to reach maturation quickly and to resist disease and parasites.
In environmental issues, genetically engineered plants and microorganisms have been generated to assist in the process of bioremediation. Phytoremediation has been achieved through the use of genetically engineered plants to clean up pollution in the soil and in the underground water. The same technique has been applied using genetically engineered microorganisms to clean up pollutions in water bodies and soils.
With these few benefits it is evident that genetic engineering has far much reaching benefits in almost all areas of life. To my opinion, it is therefore important to embrace genetic engineering where applicable in order to alleviate problems that are facing the modern society.