The debate about genetic engineering was started more than twenty years ago and since that time it has not been resolved. For a very long time, this field of science has been considered either as an ultimate remedy for many of our problems or as a direct threat to the very existence of humankind. It seems that these perspectives are based on common misconceptions, which do not reflect the core of this problem. First, we should point out that knowledge can always be used for both noble and evil purposes, and genetics is not an exception to this rule. Undoubtedly, the ability to change or modify cellular structure of living organisms can be a dangerous weapon if it comes into the hands of those individuals who pursue only money or power. However, one cannot presume that the study of heredity is morally impermissible. In my opinion, any attempt to understand the world and its elements should be only encouraged by the society.
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The opponents of genetic engineering often argue that this is an intrusion into the functioning of nature and that the aftermaths are not fully known to us. But it should be borne in mind that in the course of history, people have tried to conquer nature or at least adjust to their needs. Moreover, every important discovery was always met with suspicion or even distrust. So, it is not surprising that genetic science is subjected to so much criticism. The thing is that people are usually reluctant to accept everything that contradicts their conventional beliefs. One of the most common claims, made by the opponents is that adverse effects of genetic modification may become noticeable only after a very long time, perhaps even after decades; thus they are virtually unpredictable. Certainly, this argument is quite persuasive but it does not actually mean that this research should be stopped. Currently a large portion of the world population suffers from food shortage, while genetic engineering can be an effective solution to this problem. For these people ethical considerations are hard of any importance. It has to be admitted that this field of human activities is exposed to risks, no one can ever escape them, yet it is quite possible to reduce them to a minimum.
The deep-rooted stereotypes about genetic engineering are mostly based on Mary Shellys novel Frankenstein and it is sometimes feared that such experiments can breathe life into horrible monsters entirely devoid of moral reasoning. Apart from that, the opponents maintain that irresponsible attitudes can be the underlying cause of environmental or technological catastrophes. Of course, there are many examples that substantiate their viewpoint, for instance, the atomic explosion. But there is practically no field of science, which is safeguarded against similar dangers. This is why we should not accuse geneticists of alleged irresponsibility. To overcome these stereotypes, people should take a closer look at the development of technologies. It often faces prejudiced or suspicious attitudes. Probably, the myths about genetic engineering will be dispelled only when the community perceives its tangible benefits.
Modern world is now on the horns of a dilemma, we need either to face the risks of genetic engineering or avoid them at any cost but this will give us no insights into nature or ourselves. At present geneticists are forced to fight against prejudice and ignorance and this only hinders their work. Perhaps, the public should realize that their discoveries are intended to help us rather than to harm us.