Since 12 000BC, humans have been engineering life through selective breeding with plants and animals such as dogs, cats etc, however. This was done without even the most basic understanding and knowledge of genetics. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, that a scientist named Rosalind Franklin (researching the structure of DNA) produced an x-ray photograph that would later be used by James Watson and Francis Crick to determine that DNA had a structure of a double helix. It was because of this discovery that launched the fascination of genetics throughout the world.
Two decades after the discovery of DNA’s (Deoxyribonucleic acid) structure, co-founder of Genentech, Herbert Boyer alongside Stanley N. Cohen and Paul Berg had discovered a method to coax bacteria into producing foreign proteins as well as produce human protein (somatostatin) in E. coli. This revolutionary discovery jumped started the field of genetic engineering (REFERENCE).
Genetic engineering can be referred to as genetic modification or genetic manipulation. It is a form of biotechnology in which genes of an organism such as, fruits and animals are deliberately altered to achieve desired or required phenotypes (characteristics) that are deemed beneficial for the organism or human use. Some processes that are used in genetic engineering include; changing of base pairs (A-T or C-G), deleting entire regions of DNA or introducing copies of a gene into a new organism or DNA sequence (REFERENCE).. Genetic alteration also means the transplantation of one organisms DNA into another organism. Genetic modification can be used on any organism, from viruses to animals such as sheep and cattle to even humans (REFERENCE).. As time passes, biotechnology and genetic engineering continues to grow and evolve.
In today’s day and age, genetic engineering is widely used in many areas of science, however. Its most valued area is creating new and helpful antibodies against viruses and diseases for humans as well as animals and plants. When used correctly and ethically, genetic modification offers greater and higher success rates in controlling and managing diseases and viruses rather than relying on natural immunity and mutation(REFERENCE).. This is because, natural immunity and mutations are a slow and unpredictable process that leaves many areas vulnerable and subjective to outside genetic attacks by diseases and viruses. Genetic engineering can help in reducing and limiting the affects of diseases as well as illnesses, for example. In 1982, a product of “genetically modifying yeast and bacteria like E. coli,” (Yourgenome, 2017) called Humulin was licensed for human use. This was a substitute for human insulin, “a hormone that breaks down glucose from food you eat to be used as energy.” (health direct, 2016) to be used by those with type 1 diabetes as they are unable to produce natural insulin due to this disease. follow with REBUTTLE
Medical benefits aren’t just limited to present day diseases, studies have shown that genetic mutation can also delay the process of aging. “Scientists from UCLA have carried out experiments on delaying the aging of fruit flies” (Stuart Wolpert, 2017), there results were fruitful and resulted in the increase of the fly’s life spans by 30% whilst also increasing their health levels. The experiment consisted of increasing the AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) in the flies, a “protein which plays a role in cellular energy homeostasis.” (Erik A. Richter, Neil B. Ruderman, 2010) causing the slower consumption of energy delaying aging, however. delaying aging is a minor achievement in the face of new data that was also found during the experiment. According to David Walker, (the head author and lead of the experiment) this technique could eventually lead to delaying the on-set of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stoke and many other age-related diseases. This new-found research is predicted to be soon feasible with humans and may lead to greater achievements in the future, however. Despite the many positives about genetic engineering and health benefits it may produce, risks still loom over the vast and unknown field of science.
Many risks are still at large when scientists play the role of “god”. With genetic engineering still in its early stages, many fear the future ramifications it poses. For instance, whilst the UCLA’s methods of delaying age are very plausible and decreasing virus and bacteria seem to be only a step away. Many scientists argue that pathogens and viruses will adapt to these new environments, possibly causing newer more adept diseases to form. Another ramification are the social impacts of genetic engineering, is it ethical? The ethicality of “embryo genetic modification has been questioned by many countries in the world” (medium.com, 2017), however. Only twenty-two countries have banned it, such as South Africa, Austria, Japan and Australia. This is because of the high impacts this may have on societies.
All in all, genetic engineering is not perfect and is still a field shrouded in mystery and the unknown, however. The positives greatly out weigh that of the negatives, with much new-found research and data, it is clear that this knowledge should be used to greatly benefit mankind. Having higher success rate with almost 100% predictability allows for more lives to be saved as well as decreasing fatalities caused by diseases, viruses and worldwide epidemics. It is these reasons alone that should allow for the funding and support of genetic engineering worldwide.