The Effects of Biotechnology on the Developmed World

The Effects of Biotechnology on the Developmed World
The advanced breakthrough of biotechnology has meant many changes to
the world. The more complex knowledge of molecular biology and dna
technology has meant new and improved proteins, the production of dna
tracers and antibodies, and even cloning. Biotechnology could
therefore potentially be extremely useful to the developed world:-
This is ?the manipulation of an organism?s genetic material to modify the proteins it produces? (aids.hallym.ac.kr/dict/q.html.) Recombinant dna technology is used to combine dna from one organism with that of another so the desired traits can be used. Genetically modified crops -???????????- This piece of modern technology allows scientists to create a variety of hybrid plants, e.g. those that are herbicide tolerant; resistant to pests; produce high yields; vaccines and nutrients etc. The production of all these plants does the environment a great deal of good; reducing the usage of chemical pesticides which in turn could lead to safer water supplies and a better surroundings for wildlife; reducing the need of land resources due to the high yields plants can now give, and so on. Disease-resistant plants are now also capable of living in environments with extreme conditions. Scientists have also genetically engineered plants to produce plastic within their stem structures so that we would not have to depend on petroleum-based plastics. Although some studies have shown GM food crops contain toxins and allergens, it doesn?t necessarily mean they are a health risk. ?After all, there are natural foods that contain trace amounts of natural chemicals that are toxic or carcinogenic. These foods don?t seem to harm us.? (Interview with Norman Borlaug, Nov 02 www.actionbioscience.org.) There are also allergenic risks to natural foods, so it is only normal if there are similar risks in GM crops. GM crops does not seem to be worse for the environment. The higher yields farmers can now produce means less land is needed. If they used conventional farming methods, it would mean that for food production to increase, acres of land would need to be cut down, which in turn destroys the wildlife?s natural habitat and limits the already shrinking green land we have. Higher yields also results in less fertiliser used, which poses fewer risks to smaller species, such as insects. Although there have been problems to the manipulation of plants? dna, e.g. transnational company, Monsanto?s herbicide ?appears to encourage the growth of a toxic fungi that devastates wheat fields.? (www.newscientist.com,) the advantages of GM foods far outnumber the disadvantages; reduced usage of chemical inputs results in less water pollution; less need to use more land, ?allowing for greater conservation of natural habitats.? (http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/ites/0903/ijee/penn.htm;) less energy needed to grow plants, resulting in less atmospheric pollution; and reduced soil erosion following the introduction of herbicide-resistant crops which encourages the use of tillage. Cloning Stem Cells -???????- Biotechnology has also meant human embryonic stem cells can be cloned and in turn help those that are diseased or paralysed. These cells are bloods cells needed in order for more blood cells to be produced. Under certain conditions, ?they can be induced to become cells with special functions such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.? (http://stemcells.nih.gov/infoCenter/stemCellBasics.asp ) The availability of biotechnology techniques has meant scientists are much closer to finding cures to diseases such as Parkinson?s. For example, there have been treatments with adult stem cells that ?has cured mice suffering from a form of multiple sclerosis (MS)? (New Scientist, 07 May 03.) Postmortems on the mice have shown that the stem cells migrated to sites of damaged areas and repaired them. If stem cells can recognize and repair damaged areas, then the treatment of MS is very high. This breakthrough is extremely significant because it means the suffering of many can be eased. Although cures cannot be guaranteed, we are not far from solving and understanding some important problems in the modern world. Hope also comes from recent findings of stem cells enabling paralysed rats to walk again, suggesting, ?embryonic stems cells could have a valuable role to play in treating spinal injuries.? (New Scientist, 03 July 03.) Even though there are limitations, scientists are working to overcome them: studies show that adult stem cells are not as versatile as embryonic stem cells (esc) since there is not enough evidence to suggest bone marrow stem cells can turn into anything else but blood, whereas ESCs has the potential to turn in almost anything. Now, research is concentrated on ESCs, how they can be produced from only one source and differentiating them into specialised cells first before transplantation to reduce the risk of tumour growth. There are however many ethical issues brought about by biotechnology. Most critics seem to think that genetic engineering and biotechnology can only benefit mankind in the short term. As in the 1950s, the creation of ddt proved to be more harmful than good to the environment. Biowarfare is also a big problem, as with recently discovered anthrax, which when entering the body secretes bacteria which the body cannot defend itself against. There is also the problem that once we are able to genetically design humans, we will belong in defined social classes according to the degree of our genetic enhancement, meaning that the un-enhanced humans could be discriminated against by those that are. People also claim that with GM crops, genes could ?escape? into the wild and cross-pollinate with wild relatives, resulting in mutations that we would not expect and do not want. I however, believe that the benefits of cloning and genetic engineering far outweigh the risks. After all, no one would be here without the help of biotechnology. The synthesis of new proteins has allowed new antibiotics to be cloned, immunising us against, e.g. smallpox or the flu. Diseases such as diabetes can now be treated with ease and in the future, rare human protein can be cloned and stored in order to be a part of gene therapy. Cloning has also meant that infertile couples are now able to have children. Although the success rate is low, it is still much better than for them to have no hope at all. Doctors are also close in creating bone, tissue and cartilage that matches patients? tissue exactly for use in surgery. This is much more convenient and safer. One good example of how cloning is beneficial is news of a baby girl born free of the gene that causes the Tay-Sachs disease, even though both her parents were carriers. This was done by replacing the flawed gene in her cloned embryonic cell with normal dna. Physicist Stephen Hawking commented that natural evolution has ended and has been ?replaced by human meddling with their own genetic makeup.? (The Observer Aug 02) yet we know this isn?t necessarily a bad thing. Altering genes gives us a better chance at long-term survival since humans will want to have more intelligence and better memory. Genetic fingerprinting dna technology has also led to the discovery of genetic fingerprinting. This has been very useful for solving crime since dna left on the crime scene can identify the individual for which it belonged to. Since research has shown that everybody has their own dna, each individual would therefore have dna patterns exclusive only to themselves. This pattern can be sought by cutting the dna at specific base sequences into smaller parts of different lengths. Some of these parts contain a mini-satellite, which are repeated core sequences, varying from person to person, and some may be ?useless? dna. Using electrophoresis, the dna fragments are separated according to size by placing them on the negative end of a block of gel. Since dna carries negative charges they will move towards the positive end. The smaller fragments are lighter and will move through the gel quickly. The bigger will do so slowly. The fragments are now separated into bands. Once a radioactive probe is added to identify the mini-satellite, Southern blotting is used to transfer the dna fragments into nylon membrane The minisatallite regions picked up by the probes are made visible using an X-ray film, creating a pattern of bands known as a dna fingerprint. dna fingerprinting can be used to identify suspects in a crime. Using visual inspection, dna fingerprints that match the victims will be the suspect who was a part of the crime. A new technique of dna fingerprinting allows `a print to be take from a single cell.? (Interview with David Fickling, Sydney, The Guardian 15 Feb 03.) This allows the problems of contamination to be eliminated since evidence is contained in one cell alone. I conclude that biotechnology has helped the developed world, and the developing world a great deal. It has allowed scientists to make discoveries beyond our imaginations, helping those that are diseased, producing new types of foods which in turn are more nutritious and beneficial. Cloning techniques has allowed the production of new antibodies and brings hope to gene therapy. Although there are disadvantages to biotechnology, it is something we must face if we want to further our prospects of bringing better life to the world. The mistakes we make are there to be learnt from, not to be criticised. In time, the human race will have moved on to be much more successful and prosperous. Who will be in the position to scrutinise that?

The Effects of Biotechnology on the Developmed World 7.5 of 10 on the basis of 2121 Review.