Ethics in the world of Genetic Engineering

Another very complicated process is the replacing of the defected gene and there is no guaranteed success. The organisation Animal Aid also recognises the problem of the mass production of biological substances such as insulin. It believes it could lead to ‘over-prescribing’, especially with children and growth hormone. Also, British physicist Joseph Rotblat says genetic engineering could give the opportunity for the development of new weapons of mass destruction. Adding to these concerns is the topical area of animal cruelty.

The HMSO released statistics on animal testing in 1994 in the Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals, Great Britain paper. It says over 202,311 experiments were performed on animals with harmful genetic consequences. The main worry is that scientists simply have no real idea of what the realest of their ‘genetic tinkering’ will be and that most of the animal suffering has not been charted. Horrific abnormalities like loss of limbs and facial clefts have been known, as well as calves growing too quickly in the womb to be born naturally and pigs born with a bovine growth hormone being blind, suffering from arthritis, without the ability to reproduce. Experiments are just not successful enough for animal right’s campaigners.

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Chickens bred to be resistant to a certain disease are found to actually suffer from the disease, lambs are born with a fatal diabetic condition and there are fears that humans will contract new strains of fatal disease from animals, such as the case of BSE producing a strain of the human form CJD. The topic of ‘breeding for death’ is widely debated. Mice born to contract cancer, others dying of cystic fibrosis within forty days- is it fair to breed mice purely to carry out ‘theories’?

To breed fruit flies with extra wings and eyes or mice with ears on their back, causing immense suffering an certain death? Many say no and have joined such organisations as Animal Aid and the CIWF to try and put a stop to this cruelty. The CIWF released this statement on the subject of animal testing: ‘CIWF believes that the production of trangenic farm animals cannot be down without causing suffering to those animals and to their parents and surrogate parents. We would therefore like to see an end to the genetic engineering of farm animals’.

The Genetics Forum believe all these problems could be controlled and some of them even solved if the government arranged an overall framework for consistency in local ethics committees. As yet there is no such plan. Genetic Engineering and Plants This is another method scientists feel will solve world-wide problems. If food can be grown faster and with more pleasing characteristics then the economy can be boosted and the starving can be fed. Many independent bodies are funding their own projects concerning GM research including The European Commission and the DOE. But what are the implication of GM foods and are they doing more harm than good?

There is a worry that genes cannot be used out of their species but researched on Gm claim that this is no concern. There is proof that bacteria moves genes from species to species naturally and even that ordinary plant breeding crosses genes to prevent disease. Most of what we call ‘home grown’ crops did not originate in the UK but were brought here by plant breeders who began selecting and crossing bred to suit UK conditions. Scientists believe their technology has advanced dramatically which gives little room for error.

The testing is strictly controlled and assessed and since only the specific gene for a trait is dealt with there is no trail or error method any longer- giving much tighter, better results. It is believed Gm could revolutionise the world we live in. Farmers could find their yields are vastly improved and that there is no more use for artificial fertilisers which reduces the chance of pollution. There could be a greater marketability for produce, an improvement in animal health and welfare as well as the obvious help for undeveloped countries. A recent survey claims most people are open to the idea of GM crops, especially if they meet the criteria promised.

Researchers claim energy producing crops could be formed in order to preserve natural resources and that plants could be specially adapted to grow in hostile conditions such as arid land or acidic soil. At present, slow ripening fruit is being developed, tomato puree made from GM ingredients is on sale and coffee beans are being modified to produce more aroma and less caffeine. Vegetarian cheese has been a huge success, the rennet from calves stomach linings being replaced with the GM ingredient chyomosin. As well as the ‘necessary’ plant breeding there is also room for the possibilities of luxury. Using genetic engineering and a wild strain of meadow grass, the British Seed Houses are breeding a species of ‘super-grass’, designed to keep it’s lush, green appearance all year round.

Also the grass will never need to be watered, meaning it can survive through drought and cold periods. But despite this extensive argument for GM foods there is the downside. Again there is the claim that scientists haven’t enough insight as to what can happen in the future. There are claims GMO’s may continue to live in their environment long after the crops are removed, leading to the possibly of pollution. The production of GM Soya has also come under fire as it is not included under the current laws and does not have to be labelled as GM.

It is estimated that Soya is includes in 60% of processed foods in America and when it was decided to plant some millions of hectares of GM crops in North America there was an outcry. Foodfuture, a segment of the Food and Drink Federation, claims it would not be beneficial or practical to have full information about every single ingredient in a food on the label, but the public continues to argue their right to know what is in the for they are consuming. Many farmers are voicing their fears about herbicide-resistant crops.

They are concerned that the gene may copy into other species, namely weeds, causing them to also became resistant to herbicide. This renders the herbicide useless and breeds a new species- ‘super weeds’. Also they are scared of using GM seeds. Once companies change seeds using GM, they can patent them so farmers have to pay to use them. This is known as bio-piracy and is basically a legal form of theft. Farmers can be run out of business because of bio- piracy and, consequently, because of GM. Assisting developing countries is also not as rosy as it first appears to be. There is concerns that the use of GM renders trade with developing countries pointless so there is a loss of money for those less fortunate.

Many also doubt if developing countries will actually receive any of the benefits and not just line the pockets of those already wealthy. Religion has an important part to play in GM produce. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus object to animal genes being used in the produce due to their religious obligations. Vegetarians also find this [practise unacceptable with their diet. Organisations are concerned about the spread of GM genes into other gene pools. The Green Alliance says ‘Such spread could mean ‘genetic contamination’ of the gene plants of some native plants and animals- in other words, naturally occurring genes could be replaced by introduced ones, leading to a reduction in biological diversity…. the potential of release is enormous.

Therefore rare events will occur. ‘ They are also worried about the underhand way some governments are dealing with GM. In 1996, in the US, GMO varieties of maize and Soya were grown with conventional breeds, meaning people were unwillingly eating GM crops without even knowing. Despite scientists claiming there is still a huge market for GM produce, recent public opinion is shifting towards organic produce, especially since the blunders surrounding the BSE crisis.

Many GMO producers are now concerned that the public may begin to boycott their products if further action is not taken to reassure them about GMO. Sources of Information Articles Man or Mouse? The Guardian March 1997 The genetics policy, The Daily Mail February 1997 Hello Dolly, Telegraph Group Limited 1997 Why the gene green grass of home stay eternally emerald, The Daily Mail 1997 Genetic clues to a healthier future, Telegraph Group Limited 1996 Public oppose insurers’ genetic test policy, The Genetics Forum April 1997 Will the gene genies change the way you farm?

NFU Magazine Autumn 1997 Organisation Information Genetic Engineering, CIWF The BMA’s views on genetic testing, BMA Food and biotechnology, Foodfuture 1997 Ethical, safety and other questions Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Environmental groups are concerned, The Green Alliance Why be concerned? The Green Alliance January 1997 Genetics, Animal Aid Websites OneWorld. net Text Books Biology a functional approach, MBV Roberts Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Variation and Inheritance section. Download this essay Print Save Not the one?