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Genetic Engineering: A leap in to the future or a leap towards destruction?
Science is a creature that continues to evolve at a much higher rate than the beings that gave it birth. The transformation time from tree-shrew, to ape, to human far exceeds the time from an analytical engine, to a calculator, to a computer. However, science, in the past, has always remained distant. It has allowed for advances in production, transportation, and even entertainment, but never in history has science be able to so deeply affect our lives as genetic engineering will undoubtedly do. With the birth of this new technology, scientific extremists and anti-technologists have risen in arms to block its budding future. Spreading fear by misinterpretation of facts, they promote their hidden agendas in the halls of the United States congress. They fear that it is unsafe; however, genetic engineering is a safe and powerful tool that will yield unprecedented results, specifically in the field of medicine. It will usher in a world where gene defects, bacterial disease, and even aging are a thing of the past. By understanding genetic engineering and its history, discovering its possibilities, and answering the moral and safety questions it brings forth, the blanket of fear covering this remarkable technical miracle can be lifted.
The first step to understanding genetic engineering and embracing its possibilities for society is to obtain a rough knowledge base of its history and method. The basis for altering the evolutionary process is dependant on the understanding of how individuals pass on characteristics to their offspring. Genetics achieved its first foothold on the secrets of nature's evolutionary process when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel developed the first laws of heredity. Using these laws, scientists studied the characteristics of organisms for most of the next one hundred years following Mendel's discovery. These early studies concluded that each organism has two sets of character determinants, or genes (Stableford 16). For instance, in regards to eye color, a child could receive one set of genes from his or her father that were encoded one blue, and the other brown. The same child could also receive two brown genes from his or her mother. The conclusion for this inheritance would be the child has a three in four chance of having brown eyes, and a one in three chance of having blue eyes (Stableford 16).
Genes are transmitted through chromosomes which reside in the nucleus of every living organism's cells. Each chromosome is made up of fine strands of deoxyribonucleic acids, or DNA. The information carried on the DNA determines the cells function within the organism.
Sex cells are the only cells that contain a complete DNA map of the organism, therefore, the structure of a DNA molecule or combination of DNA molecules determines the shape, form, and function of the [organism's] offspring (Lewin 1). DNA discovery is attributed to the research of three scientists, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and James Dewey Watson in 1951. They were all later accredited with the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1962 (Lewin 1).
The new science of genetic engineering aims to take a dramatic short cut in the slow process of evolution (Stableford 25). In essence, scientists aim to remove one gene from an organism's DNA, and place it into the DNA of another organism. This would create a new DNA strand, full of new encoded instructions; a strand that would have taken Mother Nature millions of years of natural selection to develop. Isolating and removing a desired gene from a DNA strand involves many different tools. DNA can be broken up by exposing it to ultra-highfrequency sound waves, but this is an extremely inaccurate way of isolating a desirable DNA section (Stableford 26). A more accurate way of DNA splicing is the use of restriction enzymes, which are produced by various species of bacteria (Clarke 1). The restriction enzymes cut the DNA strand at a particular location called a nucleotide base, which makes up a DNA molecule. Now that the desired portion of the DNA is cut out, it can be joined to anothe strand of DNA by using enzymes called ligases. The final important step in the creation of a new DNA strand ... more
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Genetic engineering 3
Science is a creature that continues to evolve at an ever-increasing rate. The transformation from tree shrew, to ape, to human far exceeds the time for the transformation time from an analytical machine, to a calculator, to a computer. However, science, in the past, has always remained distant. Science has allowed advances in production, transportation, and even entertainment; but never in history will science have an affect on our lives, as genetic engineering will undoubtedly do. For the last decade, science has made vast improvements in genetics, monitored by the Human Genome Project. The goal of this organization is to identify and understand the entire genetic constitution. "They have the daunting task of identifying and mapping all of the eighty thousand genes, in human DNA, they are making new discoveries weekly" (Reuterlinkextra). With these discoveries comes many implications, In reviewing the literature genetic engineering needs to be banned because of the social, religious, ethical, and legal implications.
The first step to understanding genetic engineering is to know the start of its creation. Genetics achieved its first foothold on the secrets of nature's evolutionary process, when an Austrian Monk named Gregor Mendel developed the basics of how genetics work. Using this, scientist studied the characteristics of organisms for the next one hundred years following Mendel's discoveries. These early studies concluded that each organism has two sets of character determinants, genes (Stableford 16). For instance, in regards to eye color, a child could receive one set of genes from his or her father that were encoded one blue, the other brown. The same child could also receive from its mother two brown genes. The conclusion is that the child would have a three out of four chance of having brown eyes and a one out if four chance of having blue eyes (Stableford 16).
Inside every person is Deoxyribonucleic acid or more commonly known as DNA. DNA exist as two long, fine strands of DNA spiraling into the famous figure of the double helix. The discovery of DNA is attributed to three scientist, Francis Crik, Maurice Wilkins, and James Dewey. All were given the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1962 (Lewin 1).
Each strand of DNA is composed of millions of the essential chemical building blocks of life, chemical bases. "There are four bases Adenine (A), Thiamin (T), Guanine (G), and Cytosine (C). These bases can only be paired in certain order, (A) only with (T), (G) only with (C), and vice versa" (Barnes 180). The order of in which these bases occur determine the information available, much as specific letters combine to form words in a sentence.
DNA resides in the nucleus of all of our cells, except the red blood cells. In each nucleus, there are forty-six molecules of coiled, double stranded DNA. Each one of these molecules is housed in a structure called a chromosome. Inside each chromosome are genes. Genes are the chemical message of heredity. "Genes constitute a blueprint of our possibilities and limitations, the legacy of generations of our ancestors, our genes carry the key to our similarities and uniqueness" (Genetic). Genes are made up of the chemical bases Adenine, Thiamin, Guanine, and Cytosine. These base in a certain order makes up codes, these codes determine if you are short, tall, fat, skinny, and etc.
The sex cells are half of the forty-six chromosomes, twenty-three to be exact. In these cells, by random only certain genes are carried by the cells. When the sex cell from a man, sperm, and a sex cell from a woman, an egg, combine their genetic information and a new life is created with the traits from its parents.
Genetic engineering is isolating and removing a desired gene from a strand of DNA. In genetic engineering, many different apparatuses are used in removing the gene. One way DNA can be broken up is by ultra-high frequency sound waves, but this procedure is highly inaccurate way of isolating a desirable trait (Stableford 26). A more accurate way of obtaining the desired trait is the use of restriction enzymes. These enzymes chemically cut the DNA at a particular location on the strand. Now that the trait is cut out, it ... more
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