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Patenting People Essay, Research Paper

Patenting People:

The Benefits Behind Genetic Engineering

Patenting People

Genetic engineering is new breakthrough technology concerning many ethical, legal,

and social standpoints that influence people different ways. Genetic engineering is the term that

applies to techniques used to alter or combine genes in a organism. Cells of all living organisms

contain genes. Genes contain instructions for making cells and for the work that goes on inside

them. The complete set of genes for a human is called the human genome. It is similar to a book

of instructions written in an unknown language. Science needs to at least learn this language in

order to learn the secrets of the genes. If possible science needs to apply these discoveries to

everyday life. If the problem of world famine can be cured by genetically engineered food, then

genetic research should thus be allowed. If a mother’s firstborn can be genetically engineered

to guarantee the health of the child, then why is the research even being doubted? Think of all

the world problems that could be aided by the science of genetic engineering. Many benefits will

be brought about by the application of genetic science into everyday life.

One huge benefit provided from genetic engineering will be the use of DNA forensics,

otherwise known as DNA typing or DNA identification, instead of the current technology used

today to identify people. DNA contains a great deal of information about a person, much more

than one’s social security number or one’s fingerprint can hold. DNA can tell much more about a

person than one would care to know. DNA can tell a person information such as identification

such as identification of relatives, identification of fatherhood, identification of bodies and

identification of soldiers. To identify individuals, forensics’ scientists scan around ten DNA

regions that vary from person to person and use the data to create a DNA profile of that

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individual. One current way of identification is by the use of fingerprint. The use of the

fingerprint is a wonderful way to identify people; but by using DNA, one can receive more

accurate and precise results. There is much less margin for error using DNA. A fingerprint must

be obtained through touch. In other words, the culprit must actually touch something at the

crime scene. What if he/she was wearing gloves? Then, investigators must move down the ladder

to less accurate methods of obtain evidence. DNA samples can be obtained by hair, blood,

semen, skin, and nail clippings because they are all made up cells containing DNA. Think about

this: A 15 year old boy goes into 7-11 carrying a gun. He yells at the store owner, spitting on the

counter to, “Give me all your money!”. The store owner says, “No!” and gets shot. The young

scratches his neck as he empties out the cash register and walks out of the store. Using

fingerprinting how could he be identified? The young boy is a minor, never committing a crime

before, therefore his fingerprints are not on file. Basically, the police are out of luck. With the

use of DNA technology the police could identify him easily. The saliva on the counter and

then the skin cells that came off when he scratched his neck are prime evidence for DNA

identification. As seen, the use of and study of DNA forensics enables investigators to identify

potential suspects whose DNA may match evidence left at the crime scene. Not only that, DNA

forensics will help exonerate persons wrongly accused of crimes and will help incarcerate

persons who actually committed the crime, leaving out any discrepancy. The study of DNA will

help match organ donors with recipients with little or no chance for failure. Last but not least,

scientists can use DNA to study human evolution and uncover history by examining people dead

for thousands of years.

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A second benefit coming from the study of genetic engineering would be the study and

application of molecular medicine. Certain genetic technology and research are starting to have

profound impacts on biomedical research and also are revolutionizing biological research and

clinical medicine. The highly detailed genome maps, obtained from in-depth study into the

human genome, allows researchers to find the genes associated with dozens of genetic conditions

including myotonic dystrophy, fragile X syndrome, neurofibromitosis types 1 and 2, inherited

colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and familial breast cancer. Upon discovery of these genes,

medical researchers are devising therapeutic regimens based on new classes of drugs,

immunotherapy techniques, avoidance of environmental conditions that may trigger disease, and

possible augmentation or even replacement of defective genes through gene therapy. Medical

researchers are currently trying to find cures for certain diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

Here is the cure. Through this technology, science will be able to cure these diseases and

hopefully other painfully fatal diseases in our future.

Another important advancement in the controversial genetic field is the study of

Microbial genomics. Microbial genomics will bring about new energy sources, environmental

monitoring to detect pollutants, protection from biological and chemical warfare, and last but not

least, safe and efficient toxic waste clean-up. Researchers are currently developing new energy

related biotechnology such as photosynthetic energy systems that function in accordance with

plant photosynthetics. Scientists are also developing microbial systems that function in extreme

environments such as that of Mercury or Pluto. Furthermore, scientists are developing organisms

that can metabolize readily renewable resources and waste material in equal amounts. The

technologies found within the research of microbial genomics will allow scientists to establish

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more precisely the diversity and allow scientists to identify those genes critical to helping large

or small ecosystems maintain and flourish. Lastly, further research into microbial genomics will

enable scientists to monitor and thus predict environmental change in years to come.

Probably one of the larger benefits and more accepted benefits would be that of

genetic farming. This will bringforth new crops, nutritious produce, biopesticides, new resources,

and edible vaccines incorporated into food products. Understanding plant and animal genomes

will allow us to create stronger, more disease resistant plants and animals. Not only reducing the

cost of agriculture, it will also provide more nutritious, disease free foods. Today growers are

using bioengineered seeds to grow insect and drought resistant crops requiring no pesticide.

Researchers are currently trying to enable livestock and farm plants to grow super fast and grow

supersized. They just recently achieved this with a salmon. The salmon grew roughly 30 pounds

a span of two weeks, while salmon growing for a year, eating the same food, only around 9

pounds. Genetically engineered crops and livestock could help cure the global affair of world

hunger.

The prenatal research intertwined with genetic engineering provides some benefits

although not as acceptable as others. The prenatal research will thus allow mothers to choose

the characteristics of their child and how it will enter into this world. Will it have birth defects?

Will it have behavioral problems? With the research scientists are performing recently, these

problems will be cured. Although how will it affect the genepool? Will everybody look similar

and will people all have the same personality? More than likely. Nobody will choose genes that

will give his/her child abnormal feet or abnormal height. This part of genetic research can be

5

held off for quite sometime. The prenatal tests should be researched and allowed while the other

half can afford to be left alone. In an argument by Gregory Stock and Glenn McGee published

on the internet, Gregory Stock stated, “If gene modifications to retard aging could add 10 years

to life expectancy and be performed reliably on the first cell of any vitro fertilized embryo,

would you deny this procedure to a mother who wanted it for her child?”

In conclusion it is clearly seen that the benefits brought about by genetic engineering are

far too great to deny them to society. How could a child be allowed to accept mental retardation

if they had a cure for it? How could this be allowed? How could a man be wrongly accused if we

have the technology to prove his innocence? How can this technology be put off any longer?

Bibliography

Baker, Catherine. Your Genes, Your Choices. Online. Internet. 20 Mar 2000.

Available: http:/www.ornl.gov/hgmis/yourgenes/genes.html

Brain Tennis. Online. Internet. 10 Mar 2000.

Available: http:/hotwired.lycos.com/synapse/braintennis

“Genetic Engineering”, The World Book Encyclopedia. 1997.

Potential Benefits of Human Genome Project Research. Online. Internet. 15 Mar 2000.

Available: http:/www. ornl.gov/hgmis


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