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GENERAL STUDIES Task: Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of genetic engineering with specific reference to Gattaca? Gattaca, a film, takes place in the near future, in a time when genetic engineering technology is used is used to create a perfect society. Gatttacas main character, Vincent, is genetically inferior; he was conceived by natural birth, rather than genetically engineered, which means that throughout his life is guaranteed discrimination. Vincent has dreams of becoming a scientist at Gattaca, but being of natural birth, he has almost no chance of ever working there. During the later stages of the 20th century, man harnessed the power of the atom, and not after, soon realised the power of genes. Genetic engineering is going to become a very mainstream part of our live eventually, because there are so many possibilities advantages and disadvantages involved. Here are some of the advantages: Diseases could be prevented by detected by detecting people/plants/animals that are genetically prone to certain hereditary diseases, and preparing for the inevitable. In addition, infectious diseases can be treated by implanting genes that code for antivirus proteins specific to each antigen.
Animals and plants can be tailor made to show desirable characteristics. Genes could also be manipulated in trees for example, to absorb more CO2 and reduce the treat of global warming. Genetic Engineering could increase genetic diversity, and produce more variant alleles, which could also be crosses over and implanted into other species. It is possible to alter the genetics of wheat plants to grow insulin for example. Of course, there are two sides to the coin; here are some possible eventualities and disadvantages: Nature is an extremely complex inter-related chain consisting of many species linked in the food chain. Some scientists believe that introducing modified genes may have an irreversible effect with consequences yet unknown. Genetic Engineering borderlines on many moral issues, particularly involving religion, which questions whether man has the right to manipulate the law and course of nature.
Genetic Engineering may be one of the greatest breakthrough in recent history alongside the discovery of the atom and space fight, however, with the above eventualities and facts above in hand, government have produced legislation to control what sort of experiments are done involving genetic engineering. In the UK there are strict laws prohibiting any experiments involving the cloning of humans. However, over the years here are some of the experimental breakthroughs made possible by genetic engineering. At the Roslin Institute in Scotland, scientist successfully cloned an exact copy of a sheep, named Dolly. This was the first successful cloning of an animal and most likely the first occurrence of two organisms being genetically identical. Note: Recently the sheeps health has deteriorated detrimentally.
Scientists successfully manipulated the genetic sequence of a rat to grow a human ear on its back. (unusual, but for the purpose of reproducing human organs for medical purposes) Most controversially, and maybe due to more liberal laws, an American scientist is currently conducting test to clone himself. Genetic Engineering has been impossible until recent times due to the complex and microscopic nature of DNA and its component nucleotides. Through progressive studies, more and in this area is being made possible, with the above examples only showing some of the potential that genetic engineering shows. For us to understand chromosomes and DNA more clearly, they can be mapped for future reference. More simplistic organisms such as fruits fly (Drosophila) have been chromosome mapped due to their simplistic nature meaning they will require fewer genes to operate. At present, a task named the Human Genome Project is mapping the human genome, and should be completed in the next ten years. The process of genetic engineering involves splicing an area of a chromosome, a gene, which controls a certain characteristic of the body.
The enzyme endonuclease is used to split a DNA sequence and split the gene from the rest of the chromosome. For example, this gene may be programmed to produce an antiviral protein. This gene is removed and can be placed into another organism. For example, it can be places into bacteria, where it is sealed into the DNA chain using ligase. When the chromosome is once again sealed, the bacteria are now effectively re-programmed to replicate this antiviral protein. The bacteria can continue to live a healthy life, though genetic engineering and human interventions have actively manipulated what the bacteria actually are. No doubt, there are advantages and disadvantages, and this whole subject area will become more prominent over time. In Gattaca, there was a clear division between the genetically engineered people to the naturally born people.
The division was simple, the genetically engineered people had the advantage because they were perfect, but the naturally born people were in the disadvantage because they were not perfect. Employers were looking for strong candidates in their work place, they do not care who you got in to the world. They want the strongest and the most capable people; the way they do that is by looking at the persons health and flaws. If the employee has a low life expectance, or has genetically inherited dieses, then they would be discriminated because they would be seen as weak. Because there would be genetically, engineered people who have the same ability as them but they also have a longer life expectancy and no long-term illness. Therefore, the employers would take advantage of the extra information about peoples background and health, and discriminate the people who they think is weak.
On the other hand, genetic engineering can wipe out any inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis, cancer, sickle cell anaemia; they could prevent the child from having inherited disability too. This would make many people live so much easier, because inherited diseases are very painful and the person suffers a lot. Genetic engineered people are made to be perfect so there would not be anything wrong with them, physically and mentally, because parents can pick good characteristics for their children. Therefore, there would be less violence, murder, rape, gangsters, and serial killers. Because all parents want their children to be good and behave well, so most of the children would have the good genes so there would be less crime. If there were genetic engineering then every one would be very similar, they would be clever, good-looking, nice personality, healthy and caring.
Therefore, there would be more completion for higher educated work places and there would be less people doing lower educated work, like cleaners, dustbin men. There would be less verity in the world. The issue of genetic discrimination in insurance is an especially acute problem in the US where there is widespread reliance on private insurance schemes to cover health care costs. Despite this, there are no federal laws protecting individuals from genetic discrimination. The tools of genetic engineering allow the transfer of genes from one species to another. Because different species cannot usually breed with one another and exchange genetic material, genetic engineering opens up the prospect of creating novel species.
These have the potential to widen the scope of biotechnology in ways that will have a major impact on medicine, agriculture and possibly the environment. Current medical capabilities allow for the transplant of human organs, and even mechanical portions of some, such as the battery-powered pacemaker. Current science can even re-apply fingers after they have been cut off in accidents, or attach synthetic arms and legs to allow patients to function normally in society. However, would not it be incredibly convenient if the human body could simply re-grow what it needed, such as a new kidney or arm? Genetic engineering can make this a reality. Currently in the world, a single plant cell can differentiate into all the components of an original, complex organism. Certain types of salamanders can re-grow lost limbs, and some lizards can shed their tails when attacked and later grow them again. Viewpoint 2 Ever since biblical times the lifespan of a human being has been pegged at roughly 70 years.
Nevertheless, is this number truly finite? In order to uncover the answer, knowledge of the process of aging is needed. A common conception is that the human body contains an internal biological clock, which continues to tick for about 70 years, and then stops. An alternate "watch" analogy could be that the human body contains a certain type of alarm clock, and after so many years, the alarm sounds and deterioration beings. With that frame of thinking, the human body does not begin to age until a particular switch is tripped. In essence, stopping this process would simply involve a means of never allowing the switch to be tripped. These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages of genetic engineering..
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