Applications of Genetic Engineering: Advantages and Disadvantages

There are many advantages of genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There are also a number of drawbacks to allowing scientists to break down barriers to genetically modified organisms. Here are the most important points to keep in mind.

Applications of Genetic Engineering
 Pros and Cons of Genetic Engineering

What is Genetic Engineering?

Genetic engineering is the process of using recombinant DNA technology to alter an organism's characteristics in a particular way.

Genetic engineering, or genetic modification is a modern scientific term used for the technique of dealing with the genetic material located on the chromosomes, inside the DNA tape in the body of an organism, whether it is a person, an animal, or a plant, or microorganisms such as bacteria.

Genetic modification is done by isolating a gene or transferring it to another organism to produce a hybrid organism that has desirable traits.

The first synthetic genetic modification using biotechnology was accomplished by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1973. The first process of genetic engineering was carried out on bacteria through which insulin was produced, and then continued experiments to include all organisms.

Today, we can integrate new genes from a single species into a completely unrelated one through genetic engineering, improving agricultural performance or facilitating the production of valuable pharmaceuticals.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering may be one of the greatest breakthroughs of the modern era. There are many advantages of genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There are also several disadvantages and plausible risks that must be considered. Here are the most important points to keep in mind.


Advantages of Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, has many benefits in our lives. It is used in medicine, animal husbandry, industry, and agriculture, and in solving the pollution problem.


In Medicine:

Gene engineering has helped discover many genetic diseases, their causes, and methods of treating them. It also helps to produce many medical hormones such as growth hormone and insulin, in addition to making and modifying vaccinations in order to reduce its side effects on the human body.


Production of vaccines against some types of diseases: such as viral hepatitis, herpes simplex disease, and foot-and-mouth disease in animals.


Production of insulin from bacteria: The commercial production of insulin from bacteria began in 1982 AD, and this is an important achievement that saved the lives of many people, as it was previously dependent on extracting insulin from the pancreas of pigs and cows, which is an expensive process and is not without side effects for patients such as Allergy.


Production of lymphokines: Lymphokines are proteins that regulate the work of the immune system in the human body, including: interferon-alpha protein, which is used to fight viral diseases, such as: colds, hepatitis, herpes, as well as cancer, in addition to interleukin-2. Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is a type of cytokine signaling molecule in the immune system that regulates the activities of white blood cells that are responsible for immunity.


Production of Somatostatin: Somatostatin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus in the human brain that regulates the action of growth hormone.

Previously, somatostatin was obtained from human cadavers, but genetic engineering technology provided the world with sufficient quantities of this hormone, which is used to treat people with developmental abnormalities, and it is also used to treat the immune deficiency disease known as adenosine deaminase deficiency (ADA deficiency).


Production of erythropoietin: Erythropoietin is an essential hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells in people with severe anemia.


Production of antibodies: Antibodies contain radioactive elements or cell toxins to treat cancer. Genetic engineering also produces substances that dissolve blood clots and prevent arteries from blocking to prevent heart attacks.


In Agriculture:

Genetic engineering increases the productivity of agricultural crops, increasing their resistance to disease, heat and moisture, and reducing their need for fertilizers.

- It produces crops that can fix nitrogen in the atmosphere, so they don't need fertilizer.

- It produces agricultural crops capable of producing proteins that are toxic to insects and worms, such as: tomato worms and tobacco worms.

- It produces agricultural crops that are not affected by harmful herbicides, such as: glyphosate, which enables the farmer to spray the entire field with glyphosate, without damaging the crop.

- It produces several types of microorganisms that break down toxic chemicals, and can be used to get rid of insect pests and disease-causing organisms.

- It improves plants' ability to photosynthesize.

- It improves the quality and quantity of seed protein content.

- It transfers the animal protein-producing gene to plants.


In Industry:

Genetic engineering produces genetically modified organisms that can convert sucrose into glucose.

– It produces inexpensive agricultural fertilizers from ammonia produced by genetically modified bacteria and cyanobacteria.

– It produces microbes that have the ability to convert cellulose into sugar, which can be used later to produce ethanol.

– It monitors the efficiency of the decomposition of garbage, petroleum products, naphthalene, and other industrial wastes using genetically modified bacteria that produce light proportional to the amount of waste analyzed.


In Animal Husbandry:

Genetic engineering has been used in the field of genetic modification of animals. The aim of this use is to produce genetically modified animals that meet human needs in various products and forms.

– Genetic engineering introduces some genes to animals, as these genes fight viruses and infections.

– Increases the speed of their growth, by providing them with the fast growth hormone gene.

– Produces vaccines for diseases that affect the animal, especially poultry.

– Works on converting their waste into organic fertilizer, by using genetically modified bacteria.

– Protects endangered species.


In Solving the Pollution Problem

Genetically modified microorganisms can be engineered to undertake the process of decomposition of complex materials.

Plastic pollution is a big problem all over the world. This is most visible in developing Asian and African nations. A lot of plastics are used to transport items from the supermarket, and most food packaging is not biodegradable. 

Plastics pose threats to creatures in the sea. Marine animals are facing extinction due to the threat posed by plastic as a result of both ingestion and entanglement.

It is usually impossible to permanently dispose of these materials after use so they remain in the environment for too long. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be designed to eat up these unwanted plastic wastes, by breaking up their particles and devouring them, and this process is called biological treatment.

What are the Disadvantages of Genetic Engineering?

There are a number of drawbacks to allowing scientists to break down barriers that are perhaps best left untouched. Here are some of these disadvantages:

⇒ Genetically modified crops and foods pose a major risk to human health, for example, toxins from the crops have been detected in some people’s blood.

 Genetic engineering increases the cost of farming and is more inclined towards commercializing agriculture that operates at unethical profits.

 Genetic engineering is a technology that can be easily abused. DNA insertion could be used to create severe problems for certain groups of people.

 Genetic engineering leads to the mixing of cell lineages, and as a result of the IVF process, eggs produced by women may be fertilized with sperm from unknown people.

 The errors resulting from genetic engineering cannot be corrected, for example, they may result in the production of dangerous germs or viruses that may spread in the environment and cannot be eliminated.

 Genetic engineering may create difficult legal liabilities with unintended consequences and may have negative consequences when interacting with other species.

 The purpose of genetic engineering is to produce plants and animals with higher nutritional values but there is no guarantee that the result will correspond to what has been envisioned.

 Genetic engineering may create plants and animals with mutations or birth defects that can damage the species.

 Genetic engineering results in some new strains of living things that may disrupt the ecosystem on Earth.

 Genetic engineering only prolongs the resilience effect and it limits the amount of diversity available.

 The overproduction of GM foods will become ineffective over time because the pests that these toxins used to deter may eventually develop resistance to them.

The Scientific World

The Scientific World is a Scientific and Technical Information Network that provides readers with informative & educational blogs and articles. Site Admin: Mahtab Alam Quddusi - Blogger, writer and digital publisher.

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