12 Oct 2008

Essays on Genetic Engineering

Mankind’s concern with the identification and use of plants and animals is as old as civilization.  From the hunter/gatherers who selected the seeds of plants they knew provided sustenance for deliberate planting and cultivation to the breeding of cattle and other animals, mankind has been driven by a deep desire to understand and to control the world around him.  Over the millennia, this desire has given birth to the science we now know as genetic engineering.

The concept of genetic engineering has been around for many centuries.  Early genetic engineering took form in the selective breeding of dogs and horses, attempting to combine specific desired traits to create hybrid offspring that would possess those traits.  This is, in fact, the source of many “show dog and horse” breeds.  So successful was this form of genetic engineering that some believed genetic engineering could be used with human breeding.  This controversial philosophy and pseudo-science came to be known as eugenics and was, in part, the basis of Nazi beliefs in their alleged supremacy over others.

As the basis of genetic engineering became known over time, mankind began trying to find ways to manipulate the genetic structure of everything from field mice and flowers up to and including man himself.  Through occasional strokes of luck, many new species were developed, but each was in the same genetic family as the source material the scientists started with.

In the United States, the American courts have ruled that species created by genetic engineering are a form of intellectual creation, subject to patentability, though many in the scientific community decry the decision as inhibitive to continued academic and scientific development.  Coupled with the completion of the Human Genome Project in which the human genetic structure was mapped in detail, this court precedence has lead to deep concerns over human genetic engineering experiments, to the point that many jurisdictions worldwide have banned even the concept or anything related to it being pursued.

Another concern about genetic engineering has arisen in the field of agricultural engineering.  Over the years, many new species of food crops have been developed, some for disease resistance, others for flavor or uniform size (the last makes packaging of the produce easier).  A more disturbing development of genetic engineering has been the recent creation of “terminator” species.  These are genetically modified crops that cannot perpetuate through seeding, leading to an outcry from the farming community that such crops threaten their livelihood by not allowing them to save seed from one season to be used for the next planting season and could lead to crossbreeding contamination, potentially devastating crop yields worldwide as the terminator gene spreads indiscriminately.

Genetic engineering is a field with many potential applications and significant risk.  As such, there are many openings for essay topics and angles, both for the potential good that can come from genetic engineering and for the potential threat the science possess on the future of life on Earth.

  • Many scientists argue that genetic engineering could one day produce human clones whose body parts may be used as transplants if something should happen to the man or woman the materials came from.  Others argue that this is nothing less than playing God and committing murder.  What are the arguments presented on each side and is there a middle ground our society might be able to achieve on this issue?
  • In Europe, farmers have sworn to shut down their farms, rather than use terminator-modified seeds offered at below market rates by the developing companies.  What are some of the dangers and benefits to using such seeds and are the farmers over reacting or simply trying to keep our society safe from the threat posed by this genetic engineering?

Genetic engineering is a highly controversial science with activists up in arms on both sides of the table.  Since nature tends to act in unexpected ways outside the laboratory, it is important that scientists proceed with caution.

Students attempting to write about genetic engineering should be equally cautious as our understanding of genetic engineering is changing rapidly.  Even professional researchers and writers such as ourselves have a tough time keeping up in this ever-morphing field of human knowledge and activities.

Contact us today with your writing assignment and let one of our professional researchers and writers assist with its completion.

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