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Gene Technology

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Genetically Modified Animals

SCI 115
Professor Li
November 29, 2014

Biological Basis:
A genetically engineered animal is an animal that carries a known sequence of DNA fragments that have been joined together in a laboratory. This process involves removing genes from the DNA of one species and inserting it into the genes of an unrelated animal. “The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.” Retrieved November 27, 2014 from, http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-education. Transgenic refers to those specific genetic engineering processes that remove genetic material from one species of animal and add it to a different species. Due to the high similarity in genetic sequences for proteins among species, transgenic organisms are able to effectively assimilate and express these trans-genes. These genetically engineered animals are also known as “transgenic” animals. This process may be called Genetic Engineering or Genetic Modification; they are one in the same. Genetic engineering enables animals to produce useful proteins and are being produced to assist with human medicine such as biopharmaceutical products. Some of these include, antibodies that can be used for the treatment of infections, cancer, organ transplant rejections, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Gene technology has only been possible since the 1960’s due to the greater understanding of DNA and how it functions following the discovery of its structure by Watson and Crick in 1953.
Social and ethical implications:
The generation of a new genetically engineered line of animals often involves the death of some animals and requires surgical procedures (for example, vasectomy, surgical embryo transfer) on others. These procedures are not unique to genetically engineered animals, but they are typically required for their production. “Transgenic biotechnology presents an exciting range of possibilities, from feeding the hungry to preventing and treating diseases.” Retrieved November 27, 2014 from http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotechnology/glenn.html. The prospect of bioengineered life forms raises many questions from both social and ethical perspectives due to very little data has been collected on the welfare impacts of the genetically modified animals or their impact on the environment. Some of these ethical concerns that are apparent in gene technology are the differing worldviews regarding the crossing of species boundaries; such as the risks and benefits of the experimental use of animals, the risk of creating new diseases that potentially have no treatment, the risk to the environment, the suffering of the genetically modified organism. The list of social concerns is also a long one as well. Some of these include: consideration for rights and protections for the animal if the genetically engineered animal possesses intelligence, should there be controls placed on the research itself? Are there unintended personal, social, or cultural consequences, and who will have access to these technologies? Below is a breakout of whether these concerns are considered as coming from the outside or coming from the inside:
Extrinsic (outside) Concerns * Are there any health risks associated with genetically modified animals? * Are there any effects to environment when the animal is released into the field? * “Should research be limited and, if so, how should the limits be decided? How should the limits be enforced nationally and internationally?”
Intrinsic (inside) Concerns * Should there be species boundaries for the genetically modified animals? * Will the modified animal suffer more than a non-modified animal? * Should any of the genetic research be considered morally impermissible? * Does the genetic engineering change what it means to be normal?
Personal Viewpoint: The human and animal populations continue to grow exponentially, and society has quickly shifted its focus more into technology and less into the staples of our history; such as farming. This shift will require society to look at using this technological focus to look at other ways to aid society in producing enough food to feed the ever growing populations as well as utilize this technology to develop medical treatments to treat diseases both old and new. “Human health is not achievable unless adequate amounts of nutritious and safe foods are available and accessible during all life stages. An estimated one-third of the world’s population, largely in the developing world, is currently food and nutrition insecure.” Retrieved November 27, 2014 from http://www.iuns.org/statement-on-benefits-and-risks-of-genetically-modified-foods-for-human-health-and-nutrition. With population growth at this rate, society is challenged to meet the current need for food let alone medical treatment possibilities. This situation leads to an idea that to solve for our challenge, we must utilize our technological savvy to develop ways to conquer this challenge; not only for today, but for the future. Gene modification utilized in plants and animals is a way we can use our technological knowledge to combat hunger and health issues, but I also believe there should be strict guidelines that define how and when it is used. The data should also be readily available for the public to review. While there are potential risks associated with gene technology, we must be proactive and look at this as a potential option to address hunger as well as medical treatment options. Public perceptions and attitudes about emerging biosciences and other new technologies are critical determinants of how likely it is that the implementation and development of such technologies will succeed. For the public to gain a greater understanding of gene technology, they need to get involved. This involvement can provide not only a greater understanding but also a comfort level with the decisions that are made. As a society we must be innovative and open-minded to alternate methods of food production and medicine production or we will not be able to sustain the level of population growth we continue to experience.

References
Van Eenennaam, A., (2008). Genetically Engineered Animals: An Overview. Retrieved from http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/animalbiotech.
Glenn, L.M., (2013). Ethical Issues in Genetic Engineering and Transgenics. Action Bioscience. Retrieved from http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotechnology/glenn.html.
Institute for Responsible Technology, (2000 – 2014). GMO Education. Retrieved from http://www.responsible technology.org/gmo-education.
International Union of Nutritional Sciences, (2012). Statement on Benefits and Risks of Genetically Modified Foods for Human Health and Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.iuns.org/statement-on-benefits-and-risks-of-gentically-modified-foods-for-human-health-and-nutrition.…...

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