Friday, March 19, 2010

Ethical Issues In Genetic Engineering......

We have studied Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering in our last semester of Masters in Biochemistry. Despite of all facts that Genetic Engineering gave a lot of new healthy inventions, our course supervisor Dr. Siddiqua Jamal insisted us to write an assignment on the Ethical Issues that Common Men can have because this is most important thing. we searched and worked three weeks, then submitted the assignment. Mine was as normal as it is always(for me), but surprisingly she liked that assignment very much and advised me to share with other people. Although it is Scientifically written, but i tried to make it comprehensible and so i am sharing it with all of you.

In the last forty years as the science of DNA has been developed so far in the fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering, the possibilities of having advantages as well as disadvantages are also being raised. So this is a noteworthy point in today’s research that what could be the beneficial technique and which invention is ethically destructive for the life on the earth. Here we are discussing some of the ethical issues that are being controversial in the whole process of genetic engineering.


Dolly was the first higher animal to be cloned and after that, the research in this field has been reached to the new dimensions. But the ethical issue is that during the process of cloning several controversies are being produced. First the question of the parent animal when the nucleus is taken from a different adult cell where as ovum has come from different animal and then embryo is being carried by a surrogate mother for several months, so who should really own the cloned one. Test tube babies in this sense are ethically not controversial and can be a better choice as compare to cloning until and unless further development in this particular field could be possible and which would be ethically not controversial. Another important thing is that if the cells are being taken from a developing embryo and are going to be used for cloning or stem cells research then embryo is going to lose his life and ethically it is like killing a living thing. Anything that is going to be used for the benefit of human beings but by harming another life would ethically wrong.


For several reasons genetically modified organisms could be beneficial like genetically modified bacteria can be used to cure some viral diseases and can prevent certain very harmful diseases like Hepatitis B. The same micro organisms can be used for several other purposes for example, for consumption of oil from oily and spoiled sea shores using genetic modifications. But at the same time if these modifications are not very précised, could be harmful and can cause danger to the environment and to the human beings also. . However, what is interesting is that in general the natural genetic engineering done by gene exchange between bacteria in the soil or water makes so many different bacteria that are selected to use the toxins for their energy source, and these bacteria are better suited to local environments. So usually by adding fertiliser to a polluted area, the already existing bacteria will be able to grow well and clean up the pollution rather than adding new ones. There is still more research needed, but it shows that in nature if something is already beneficial then by using genetic engineering advantages could be enhanced. Genetically modified or genetically synthesized medicines are now widely used not only for the prevention of several diseases but also for the regulation of certain enzymes and hormones level in the body. These also have to be without any side effect or any other damage to the human health, in this way these would be more beneficial.


Genetically modified food like golden rice could be very beneficial due to the reasons that these are cheaper and contain a high level of vitamins and minerals so in the areas of poverty and large population these foods can provide all nutritional needs of people specially young ones and children. A modification in the taste and quality could make GM food more important. Safety is a major important thing in the production of GM food, adverse health effects should be screened, also it is to remember that these foods should not have any allergic reaction or antibiotic resistance and neither it produce any stress which could make it ethically controversial. Also it is noteworthy that the area in which GM food is being cultivated should not spread that it could disturb the food chain or food cycle, otherwise it can strike with nature. Weeds, herbs and other natural resources are also necessary to maintain this food cycle and ecosystem.


Science is made for the ease and safety of humanity. The purpose of studying and researching in the fields related to science and particularly biotechnology and genetic engineering should be the benefit of humanity neither the destruction nor difficulties. A researcher has to do something to provide other human beings a society full of healthy environment, so every genetically engineered or genetically modified thing would be welcomed by the society if it does not contain any harmful or destructive effects and if it is providing something that is satisfactory for the people also solving problems related to life rather than making them more complicated. Everything that is not harming any naturally occurring thing, neither disturbing the environment nor colliding with rules created by nature should be acceptable for us because it is we, who can change the world only by broadening our thoughts and views.


  1. A very timely post on responsibility of science and community, which exceptionally well provides a overview of new trends in genetic engineering and cloning. Whenever I think of cloning as a bad example I always remember Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the horror and destruction that can bring. Urooj has very systematically briefed us on this important topic with her conclusions as well. Good knowledgeable post.

  2. Yes, and I have wished for a long time we could have a petition to allow the farmers to keep their family seeds...they who've had their longtime heirloom seeds replaced by the state or by corporations like MONSANTO...

    Like in Iraq...and now what will become of farmers in Afghanistan?

    Do be aware of this terrible alliance of nations with corporations...and all the ills from GM....

    Thanx for this well-studied work...hope to be back...

  3. Sir Akhter and Connie, thanks for your contribution.
    Sir, i will further write on important topics like these because the responsibility is now on both sides. When we talk about Science, another thing which is now debatable is Transplantation of organs. I personally feel that it should be considered as a beneficial method because it has no harmful effect. What if a person donates his eyes or any other part to another disabled human after his death. Everything which is made up of protein has to be decomposed and breakdown after death except bones, so if our eyes are going to lose their existence, would not it better let allow these for any use. But people socially do not support this idea, i can not understand this attitude.
    Connie, well i have read much about Monsanto Golden Rice and how they started to disturb our environment. Use of GM things are therefore suggested for a limited area where their need is necessary.
    Again thanks for encouragement..........