Presentation on theme: "One question that is being debated these days is whether or not genetic engineering is a good thing. Our science editor has contributed this article to."— Presentation transcript:
1 One question that is being debated these days is whether or not genetic engineering is a good thing. Our science editor has contributed this article to help our readers become more informed on the issue.
2 We’re hearing this term “genetic engineering” with increasing frequency these days. For those readers who may not be sure of its meaning, some definitions follow. When we speak of genes, we are referring to chemical substances in the cells of all living things that establish an organism’s characteristics. Genetic engineering is the changing of certain genes, usually to improve an organism in some way.
3 In recent years, for example, certain genes have been placed in tomato plants to make tomatoes taste better and keep them fresh in supermarkets for a longer time. Cows have been treated with a growth hormone that makes dairy cattle give more milk and reduces the amount of fat in the meat of beef cattle.
4 These sound like positive things, don’t they These sound like positive things, don’t they? After all, many people say, the technology exists to improve our lives. Why shouldn’t this technology be used? Perhaps the issue isn’t so simple, however. There are plenty of people around who oppose genetic engineering. Why?
5 Two specific objections come to mind Two specific objections come to mind. One is that the balance of nature might be upset. Suppose, for example, that scientists are able to genetically engineer certain plants so that insects will not eat them.
6 This will protect the plants, but the insects will be deprived of a food supply—and other animals that depend on those insects for food will lose their food supply, too. The other objection is a moral question. Is it acceptable or right for us to change the makeup of living things?
7 Supporters of genetic engineering say the benefits outweigh the dangers. Look at all the improvements that can be made in plants raised for food, they say. Because of genetic engineering, plants that produce more fruits and vegetables and resist disease can be grown. In a world where more and more food will be needed in the future, this is a benefit.
8 The medical advances provided by genetic engineering, say the supporters, are even more impressive. Consider cancer, for example. If genetic engineering can provide a way to cure or prevent this disease, shouldn’t it be used? And if genetic engineering can be used to kill the virus that causes AIDS, shouldn’t it be permitted?
9 However, given man’s history, it’s unavoidable that someday this technology could be used to harm people. In the hands of so-called rogue nations, it could be wrongly used. Historically, many scientific advances, originally meant to help people, have been used as weapons of mass destruction.