The Definition of Genetic Engineering

What exactly is genetic engineering? A simple definition of genetic engineering is “the ability to isolate DNA pieces that contain selected genes of other species”(Muench 238). Genetic engineering has been the upcoming field of biology since the early nineteen seventies. The prosperous field has benefits for both the medical and also the agricultural field. The diminishing of diseases, especially congenital disorders, reduction of pollution, eradication of world hunger, and increased longevity are just some of the possibilities which scientists foresee. Many of the benefits of biotechnology, another name for genetic engineering, have already been put into practice. The results are, in a number of cases, nothing less than astonishing. There are five classes of types of genetic engineering, agricultural treatment, somatic gene therapy, germ line cell therapy, medical treatment, and eugenic therapy. Many people believe that gene therapy is morally not right, but there are so many benefits to the world because of it. Some of the scientist ideals of how to alter this new science to create the perfect human does in-fact sound crazy. But if genetic engineering was regulated to prevent such things the new science could bring wonders to many peoples lives.

The first form of genetic engineering began with a man named Mendel, a monk in the late nineteenth century. He was the first to even formulate the concept of the gene from his experiments on pea plants. Since Mendel, other scientists have continued in agricultural engineering, a type of engineering that deals with the cross-breeding of plants and cattle to maximize their productivity. Through time geneticists have continued to find better methods and strategies for improving the quantity of food from plants and improving the amount of milk and meat that cattle produce. With one respect for plant engineering, scientists are now working on splicing the genes needed for the production of 1-lysine, an amino acid which has a nutritional value for humans. By enhancing the nutritional value of corn in some Third World countries, an expansion of food supplies would be unnecessary (Sylvester and Klotz 20). But not only would this benefit those people in the Third World countries, it would also be benefiting to wealthy nations. At this point in time, the act of wealthy nations donating their food, time and money to help out Third World countries has become very popular. But with this new technology, the act of wealthy nations diminishing their own food supply, would be reduced. Therefore, this aspect of genetic engineering can prove to be essential from a theological as well as a philosophical viewpoint. Other possibilities of gene engineering that evolve from gene splicing are the manipulation of plants genes that regulate photosynthesis, which would increase plant productivity. As a direct consequence of a higher yield in plants, the demand for fertilizer will diminish (Sylvester and Klotz 21). The last use of genetic engineering in plants is to make plants that produce natural pesticides. Natural pesticides would cut food production cost and eliminate a major health hazard and cause of pollution. With all of the types genetic engineering on plants we can make plants that will grow and produce exactly what we want. Plants are no longer a mystery that our society is amazed at its being, but instead a simple organism that has very few secrets.

Another very essential type of gene engineering is somatic gene therapy. This type of therapy aims at correcting defects in specific cells in patients already born with a hereditary disease. It is done by the insertion of a single gene into the somatic cells of an individual with a life-threatening genetic disease. Somatic gene therapy is intended solely to eliminate the clinical consequences of the disease; the inserted gene is not passed on to future generations (Nicols 10). So this type of gene therapy in no way is an attempt to create the perfect race.

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