E. Delaney

E. Delaney

Emma Delaney, News Writer

What makes us different than the caveman? The Phoenicians? The people who lived in the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Dark Ages? Modern technology.

The advancement of technology is what propels humanity throughout history, from old to new eras. It gives us knowledge, science, and the systematic, nuanced, complex society we have today. Personal electronics, texting, social media, and other modern forms of communication have created new rules, new terms, and new offenses, spoken or unspoken. More importantly, it also opens people up to hacking, fraud, identity theft, and more. Nevertheless, it allows for a world of opportunities as well, including social networking, high-tech military, communications, and many more.

A form of technology that is becoming ever-more prevalent in the twenty-first century is genetic engineering or genetic modification. This revolutionary science gives us a myriad of new options, but like anything else, brings many complications as well. Genetic engineering can have medical uses, industrial uses, military uses, and can benefit the everyday life of mankind.

The benefits that come with genetic engineering include use in the medical field, such as for diabetes patients; before, they had to extract insulin from the pancreas’ of pigs, and now they can genetically engineer it. They can synthesize viruses to study and to use in vaccines. Plants and crops can be genetically modified so that they can survive without as many pesticides and in harsh environments. This helps the industry, as they can produce more food, faster, in greater quantities, and cheaper. Genetic engineers have created diseases to use as weapons of war. Whenever this is implemented into combat, it tends to be a deadly blow to the other side. Now with even more advanced technology, we can use GMOs to win wars, or better — prevent many from happening. With genetic modification, we have even achieved cloning — from simple cells, to primates, and it’s very possible we’ve cloned a human embryo. Genetic modification can even give infertile couples the opportunity to have children.

There are complications. Any good thing taken to an extreme can be equally as harmful. With infertility solved, there could be population growth; this, however, will most likely not be a problem as abortions are available as well. Genetically engineered bioweapons, however, can be obtained by rival countries. It would be hard for many of them, however, to get the technology needed with how small these groups are; genetic engineers aren’t exactly commonplace. Theorists and scientists worry that once genetic modification becomes readily available to the public, humans will implement this into fashion and culture, making the biological makeup of human beings into just another changeable fad. This could potentially cause problems for future historians, and, more importantly, many more complications with providing people with healthcare that fits their needs. This also brings up ethical issues; the definition of ‘human’ will supposedly be reevaluated. Anyone could edit any gene into their child so that skills, talents, and good looks will no longer be based on the child or the parents — natural individuality will be a thing of the past. If everyone has access to ideal traits, they are no longer special and able to be rewarded. This also causes another problem: criminal identification. We identify criminals by their fingerprints and their facial structure – in essence, their DNA. If this becomes changeable, it will be nearly impossible to find criminals. This is all in theory, however, and I doubt that this will come to fruition, certainly not in the twenty-first or even twenty-second century. Scientists do as well, saying that the best they could do currently is something on a similar level to an eye-color change.

In summary, genetic engineering will introduce unique obstacles to society, but they are far outweighed by the many benefits that it can and will provide. Getting rid of genetic modification would be a setback to human kind. Lives are saved by genetic engineering every day, and, like every important scientific discovery in history, despite the issues and controversy, this discovery will prevail. It is inevitable, as advancement always is, and like other important advancements, there will be naysayers. Maybe they are correct, but science will progress and genetic engineering is a big part of our reality and our future.