Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering
Genetic engineering or genetic modification was considered an unimaginable concept years ago. But the progressive advancements in technology have paved the way for humans that it’s easy to modify the characteristics of an organism. Therefore, genetic Engineering is being experimental in Agriculture sector widely. However, some predict that Genetic Engineering is also possible for humans and animals. Considering the Advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering on humans, agriculture, and animals, the pros and cons explore its possibilities and risks.
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic Engineering or genetic modification refers to altering the genetic nature of an organism either to enhance its characteristics or improve its efficiency.
Through Genetic modification, humans have manipulated genomes indirectly by controlling breeding and selecting offspring with desired traits. A gene from another species is often added to an organism's genome to give it the desired phenotype.
It’s the advantages of Genetic engineering in Agriculture that help farmers produce a high yield in the form of the best quality foods. Genetic modification has revolutionized the agriculture sector in a way that could not happen by traditional methods.
What are the advantages of Genetic Engineering?
Scientists speculate that genetic engineering is safe and is an amicable alternative to the traditional process of animal and plant breeding. Moreover, they often support the technology because of the following advantages of genetic engineering.
1. Production of Quality Foods
Genetic manipulation is the solution to improve the quality of foods by altering their genetic structure and enhancing their nutritional value. Rice is the source of Vitamin A; scientists have successfully created a breed of rice plants called Golden Rice with higher nutritional value.
2. Faster Growth Rate is one the Advantages of Genetic Engineering
Genetic modification is the way to attain faster growth of plants and animals for food requirements. The faster pace of food production is one of the greatest advantages of genetic engineering for humans. A faster supply means satisfying the population's growing demand for food. Thus, even in adverse climatic conditions, it would be possible to grow food.
3. Genetic Modification can promote Longevity in animals & humans
Modifying genetic structure doesn’t just restrict to enhancing characteristics; it’s a way to alter the behavior of animals against viruses and bacteria. With the advancements made in Genome studies, it would be possible for humans to be immune to diseases and lead a healthy life.
4. Genetic Engineering can cure hereditary diseases
With a stronger immune system, babies will be born healthier and free from hereditary diseases like diabetes, epilepsy, arthritis, Asthma, and heart diseases. Genetic modification is also said to reduce Alzheimer’s disease.
All these hereditary disorders can be controlled and eliminated even before the baby is born. Even smaller disorders, such as eczema could be resolved because of genetic manipulation technology.
5. Genetic Manipulation can lead to further medical advancements
The biggest advantages of genetic engineering in humans are there would be a possible cure to incurable diseases such as HIV and Cancer. In the future, genetic engineering is expected to be cheaper and more advanced, which would be helpful for patients having HIV or certain types of Cancer.
What are the Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering?
Genetic Engineering is on the rise in the agricultural sector because of the economic benefits to farmers. However, the technology has also lead to controversies due to its adverse health effects on humans. Critics disagree with this method because of the following disadvantages of genetic engineering.
1. Health issues & Allergies
Studies suggest that genetic engineering may have increased natural allergens in crops. In addition, food allergens can transfer from one crop to another because of genetic engineering.
This means, genetically manipulated foods is unsafe for women during pregnancy as eating GMO foods could endanger their offspring by altering gene structure. One of the major disadvantages of genetic engineering on humans is that it can't be reverted once the genetic structure is altered.
2. Birth defects
Genetic engineering is the way to create stronger and healthier species of plants and animals. However, it may also easily create a generation of mutated species or congenital disabilities that can harm the entire upcoming generations. In addition, genetic modification leaves certain conditions even after the structure is changed or improved.
If scientists manage to counter one disease, there is no guarantee that there won’t exist another, and this time, even stronger. Likewise, if scientists genetically engineer babies in the womb, many complications could arise, including miscarriage, premature birth, or even stillbirth.
3. Development Antibiotic Resistance of disease-causing organisms
Antibiotic resistance is another fear limitation of genetic engineering as antigens and viruses adapt to the modified genes and develop resistance to the antibodies.
For example, microorganisms and bacteria tend to survive and flourish on surfaces where disinfectants are often used. In places like hospitals, bacteria are higher in number even if the floor is cleaned many times a day.
4. Mutation is among the dire disadvantages of Genetic Engineering
The technology is not 100% guaranteed to be beneficial. For many, there are contradictions related to Genetic Engineering in animals and humans. Once performed, it can’t be reversed; if the genetic structure of an animal is changed, it may lead to a change in its brain functions.
This means animals would be more dangerous for others and would become invasive or violent. Rats are often used for testing; given that their population explodes faster, the situation would be unmanageable if things go wrong.
5. Social and Moral Concerns
The technology is still unacceptable for populations who believe in the natural process. People having religious sentiments would not like the idea of going against nature and adapt to this technology. Many would consider the genetic modification process sinful, which could lead to unrest in certain sections of society. Not only scientifically, but there are many unforeseen disadvantages of genetic engineering morally, ethically, and socially.
Conclusion on Pros and Cons of genetic engineering.
Every technology has its pros and cons, while genetic engineering has its best and the worst. As far as the economy is concerned, there are many benefits of genetic engineering; for animals, risks are many. Introducing this technology to agricultural and commercial sectors is safe. However, humans have to find control measures to mitigate the risks of this technology before experimenting on animals.