Man’s attempt to improve its living condition has lead to efforts and unnatural interventions going as far as genetic modification. This practice though originally geared on novel and justifiable motives, has both its advantages and disadvantages. Like any endeavors, it has a tendency to be used, misused or even abused. Living in this planet makes us vulnerable to be directly and indirectly affected by such a practice. Hence, knowing government’s regulatory efforts is central to this issue.
According to the Wikipedia, Genetic manipulation or genetic engineering is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes. This can be done through traditional breeding and recombinant technologies. The goal is the introduction of the DNA (in the form of a gene) which in turn finds its way as favorable physical characteristics. Transgenics have found success in improving crop technology, the manufacture of human insulin through the use of modified bacteria and others.
Genetic engineering is one of the methods used by the biologist in taking a gene from one cell and inserting it into another. Lately, swapping genes between plants and animals is already possible. In the process of genetically modifying organisms, the genes could be added or even removed. The moment a new gene enters the new cell, it can transform the cell’s function, or it may change the nature of any chemicals that the cell produces. Both the possibilities and the risks of genetic manipulation have the goal of producing combinations of genes in a new life form that is unnatural.
Changing the characteristics of an organism by transferring genes, proteins, and other major life creating factors from animals, plants, species, or even humans, may result to a different life form called transgenics, The application of genetic manipulation can be both therapeutic and non-therapeutic. In the medical field, therapeutic genetic manipulation has a high level of acceptance because of its curative and medicinal effect. From this field is the vast range of genetic manipulation in medical research, and the finding of cures for illnesses that are difficult to cure or are even incurable.
It has given justification for more attempts to develop and discover a solution to modify the natural intricacies of life’s make up in imperfect bodies. The first genetically engineered drug was human insulin approved by U. S. Food and Drug Administration in 1982. Another early application was also the vaccine used for hepatitis B, which was approved in 1986, since the use of GM in medicines, it has expanded to supply many drugs and vaccines according to the article Genetic Engineering, in the Wikipedia.
The non-therapeutic aspect of genetic manipulation on the contrary, is controversial and not widely accepted because its application raises ethical, social, and religious concerns. It is evident in studies aimed to modify the physical characteristics of the subjects by analyzing and manipulating genes to bring about its expected result according to one’s preference. Attributes like physical beauty (according to desired measurements or standards), intelligence, and the reversal of possible sickness or deformities among its subjects, are the motivation for such attempts in non-therapeutic genetic manipulation.
The extent of such attempts is not just limited to animals, plants, and other species, but human genes (due to the possibility of cloning human embryos) which are inserted to animals, have the prospect of creating a human-animal hybrid. Since it is an original result of work, the probability is high for it to be patented too. As a Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) commentator said, “It may be possible to patent and to enslave human-animal hybrids who think and feel like humans but who lack constitutional protection …
” In agricultural application, genetic manipulation is a promising way to provide solutions to crop related problems. It could be observed that years before the genetic manipulation or genetic engineering was invented, farmers have already manipulated the genetic makeup of plants and animals through breeding (though the results were poor and unpredictable). According to Moore (1993), “Genetic engineering can improve agricultural food crops by changing the nutritive content of a plant or by increasing its resistance to disease.
It can also increase the growth rate in farm animals and alter their body composition, so changing the ratio of fat to meat. Genetic engineering could even introduce completely new styles of farming, as animals are made to carry human genes and produce proteins with therapeutic potential. ” Recent studies have been developed where plant-derived molecules were genetically engineered for chemotherapy free treatments among cancer patients. According to Science Daily, the latest studies with new and promising chemo-preventive agents were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting.
It was reported that scientists are using genetic studies and natural chemicals, such as plant-derived triterpenoids, to further the knowledge on how genetic and early molecular interactions can lead to cancer, and how those early interactions can be manipulated to stave off a variety of cancers. In the same news article, it mentioned Karen Liby (Ph. D. , a postdoctoral fellow) and her colleagues who conducted a study on the mice where the drugs used were well tolerated and the mice gained weight throughout the experiment.
She said, “these studies indicate that CDDO-ME and LG100268, even as individual drugs, can delay tumor development in living organisms. But the combination of the triterpenoid and rexinoid compounds was particularly powerful. This synergy could hold the key to prevention of breast cancer and should be considered for future clinical trials. ” Though these breakthroughs have gained positive results, concerns have been raised as regards the public health’s risks because of the introduction of genetically modified animals and plants for human consumption.
The reason behind is, it is difficult or even impossible to predict an outcome when new genes are combined – the result could be a complication when transgenics crops are eaten by humans, thereby affecting the genetic makeup that may have a harmful effects to humans. De Germinal, in an article, “Genetic manipulation and transgenic food,” mentioned that, given the enormous complexity of the genetic code, even in very simple organisms such as bacteria, it is not possible to predict the consequences of the introduction of new genes in any organism or plant.
He said, “this is because: the transferred gene can act in a different form when it functions inside another organism, the original genetic code of the organism is altered, the new combination of the genes of the organism and the transferred gene will have unpredictable effects and there is no way to know… the global and long-term effects of the genetically manipulated products on health. ” This argument was further confirmed by another contention.
According to Davidmann, on the article Multinational Operations, Creating, Patenting and Marketing of New Forms of Life, transferred genes may carry with them the potential to cause allergic reactions and provide resistance to antibiotics He further argued that, “it also seems that corporation, industry or government bodies which evaluate such research, development and application, are more concerned with commercial interests and profits than with the needs of the community and effective protection of public life and health.
Hence what is missing is independent public grassroots evaluation of whether new life-forms are needed or desirable. ” These concerns have caused a division of views among different people and government policy makers. At present, most countries with scientists who practices genetic manipulation, are not allowed. The argument behind this is that, no one knows the impact of genetic manipulation in the long run and might as well destroy the natural and biological equilibrium. However, the use of information related to DNA-molecule scientific studies, is allowed in most places.
Regulation and control of such a practice differs among countries and governments. In 2002, according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a clinical trial of a medicine that involves a release to the environment of a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is regulated in the U. K. Marketing approval for Genetically Modified (GM) medicines and vaccines is regulated by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medical Products (EMEA). The United States’ position is seen in the article “Food Biotechnology in the United States: Science, Regulation, and Issues.
” According to the said article, the regulation of biotechnology food products does not differ fundamentally from regulation of conventional food products. Three federal agencies responsible are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Each agency is assigned certain regulatory responsibilities. FDA provides voluntary pre-market consultations with food companies, seed companies, and plant developers to ensure that biotechnology derived foods meet regulatory standards for safety (Vogt, Parish 1999).
Davidmann, Manfred, “Multinational Operations, Creating, Patenting and Marketing of New Forms of Life,” Community Economics. Retrieved on 26 October 2007 from <http://www. solhaam. org/articles/clm505. html> De Germinal, Albert. “Genetic manipulation and transgenic food,” Consumption of Eco- Biological Products Cooperative Genetic Manipulation. Wikipedia retrieved on 26 October 2007 from <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Genetic_engineering> Genetic Modification, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2003); retrieved on 26 October, 2007 from <http://www. defra.
gov. uk/environment/gm/noncrop/micros. htm> Moore, Pete. “Genetic manipulation. ” New Scientist magazine, 13 November 1993: 1 Plant-derived Molecules, Genetic Manipulation Point to Future Chemoprevention Methods Science Daily (Nov. 20, 2006) “The Patenting of Human Genetic Material. ” Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) Communique. Jan/Feb 1994 Vogt, Donna U, Parish, Michael (1999). “Food Biotechnology in the United States: Science, Regulation, and Issues. ” United States Department of States. Retrieved on 26 October 2007 from <http://fpc. state. gov/fpc/6176. htm>