Genetic modification of plants has become a major issue today. Concerns about the safety of genetically modified crops continue to grow. Although the perceived benefits of such plants is very evident, still there are a number of people who think twice before adopting such a new concept as becoming a vital part of life as it is known today. There are still outstanding issues that need to be addressed before every one can be able to accept genetic modification of plants as the direction to follow for a brighter future for the whole humankind.
But with all the issues now going on with genetic modification and the development of better plant breeds, how will people accept the concept of applying genetic modification to animals? Although genetic modification in animals is still afar of when compared to breeding plants in terms of advances in research and commercial application, scientists see a very bright future for it. But just like what is being done with plants today, genetic modification of animals may also bring its own set of controversies.
In essence, humans have already been involved with the science of genetic modification throughout history. It probably started when humans began domesticating animals and tried selectively breeding them. Then it progressed into the stock breeding animals for commercial use. The increasing quest for better quality animal breeds brought scientists and researchers to look for more effective ways to breed animals. Scientists have began experimenting with cloning in order to get an exact genetic copy of a parent animal and transfer it to another.
But why is it that genetic modification has only recently been creating a lot of controversial buzz although it has been considered an ancient practice? All the controversy may have started when scientists began experimenting with cloning animals and became successful in cloning an animal for the first time (see Dolly the Sheep) link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_the_sheep . With the possibility of giving scientists with a bigger responsibility of manipulating the genetic make-up of animals, many opponents begin to question such a practice in the matter of ethics. Is it really ethical to create “carbon copy” animal breeds in the future? What would be the implications of such practice? To this day, such questions are left without a clear and definite answer.
Most controversies begin when people have doubts. People are generally afraid of the unknown. The same thing is happening in the field of genetic modification especially that of animals. The major issues concerning its practice as well as its development are borne out of having too little understanding of the factors and the underlying consequences of advancing such a technology. Even scientists are not one in believing that the future of the genetic modification of animals will all be good or bad. Until scientists will know for sure what direction genetic modification will take, the questions will still remain.