The most famous reason given for the support of genetic engineering is its potential use in preventive medicine. Just a few cells from an embryo can be genetically analyzed to detect harmful mutations or predilection to certain genetic disorders at which point could be genetically taken either through somatic cell or germ line gene modification. Some of the advancements in the field of medicine include discovery of the causes of Huntington’s disease which has enabled the scientists to strive to determine its normal functions (Jeremy, p.
11). Should researchers succeed in these studies, the technology could then be applied in eradicating debilitating and sudden dangerous diseases that affects almost 30,000 Americans and which is also able to affect 150,000 more individuals via genetic inheritance. The second achievement in the field of medicine courtesy of genetic engineering is successful diagnosis of familial adenomatous polyposis coli which is the dominant cancer predisposition syndrome which was realized in three implantation embryos.
The cancer predisposition affects 1 individual in every 1000 Americans, British and Japanese; therefore it is a common difficulty. Other developments include demonstration that schizophrenia is inherited and birth defects such as Downer’s syndrome can be eliminated via genetic engineering (Nicholl, p. 126). The second reason for genetic engineering is the elimination of common defects that differ in seriousness like sensory impairment. Several chromosomes associated with hearing impairment have been identified.
Despite the fact that the management of these conditions initially appeared possible, as the eradication of complete blindness or deafness would improve the quality of life of these patients, complete elimination of sensory conditions and actually lifting sensory ability to a level which is above normal are separated by a very small line. Genetic engineering is widely applied in the field of agriculture. Food crops such as maize, rice, and potatoes are being genetically modified in several ways.
Some of the benefits of genetic engineering in agriculture are higher crop yields, production of more nutritious foods, ability of the crops to be grown even in harsh environment, production of crops which are more resistant to pests and this eliminates the use of potentially dangerous pesticides, ability to remove undesirable traits, foods with better flavor and longer shelf life, and possibility of using crops as cheap source of medicine (Barash, para. 7). Genetically engineered seeds are not eaten by pests and are able to survive in relatively harsh climatic conditions.
There is a recently discovered plant gene referred to as At-DBF2 which when introduced into a tomato and tobacco cells is observed to increase their adaptation to harsh soil and climatic conditions. Biotechnology can also be applied in prolonging half life of foods, therefore fruits and vegetables can have their shelf life greatly improved. Genetic engineering in food can be employed to produce completely new substances like proteins and other food nutrients. Genetic modification of foods can also be employed in increasing the medicinal value of foods therefore resulting in homegrown edible vaccines.
Genetic engineering has a great ability in case of human beings. Human genetic engineering is the branch of genetic engineering which is involved with modifying the genes of humans before they are born (Redmond, para. 8). The technique can be applied in altering certain traits in an individual. Positive genetic engineering is concerned with enhancing the good traits in an individual such as increasing life expectancy or human capacity while negative genetic engineering is concerned with suppression of bad traits in humans such as predilection to genetic disorders.
Through genetic engineering, treatment for some dangerous diseases can be discovered. If the genes which are responsible for extraordinary qualities in human can be discovered, the genes can be inserted into the genotypes of humans. It can also be used to bring about desirable structural and functional changes in individuals (Branford, p. 23). Through genetic engineering transgenic agricultural animals can be created. The animals created in this manner are better placed to resist disease, have enhanced growth performance, and possess greater reproductive traits. An example of an animal which has undergone genetic engineering is salmon.
Transgenic salmon is able to grow into a larger size and also at a faster rate as compared to other varieties of salmon. The transgenic salmon has already been created and farmed. Genetic engineering is also used in bovines through the use of growth hormones in dairy cows to increase their level of production. With the increased use of the technology, there is a possibility that a transgenic sheep will be produced in future which will produce a better wool, cattle will be engineered to more efficiently convert feed into high quality milk and meat (Perzigian, 6).