Understanding Genetic Modification

The technology behind genetic modification makes it possible for scientists to tailor or design organisms to acquire additional benefits and make a modified organism even more productive. This has already been applied to a number of plants today, most notably the genetically modified tomato, designed to have a longer shelf life as well as acquire a better taste.

Animal breeding today has benefited a lot from advances in genetic modification research. Genetic modification even has become an important field in the development of newer medicines to treat some of the most serious diseases threatening the lives of many people today.

But what about if genetic modification is finally being performed on human subjects? Would it be an emergence of a new field of research that is worth pursuing? Would human genetic modification be the future that the whole population in general would want to have? Would human genetic modification be right or wrong in the moral or ethical point of view? In order to come up with an answer, we must first have to understand the science behind such controversies.

Although genetic modification in general has been a continuously growing field of research and study, the questions and concerns lie mostly on its future applications and the possible implications that they might bring.

For now, people may have accepted genetic modification as it is being applied on improving plants and animals in the agricultural sector as the possible answer to increased food supplies. But then again there are others who might still question their safety. But nonetheless, scientists continue to study and further advance genetic modification research in order for them to be accepted by more and more people as the questions about safety are slowly being answered.

Human genetic modification on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. There are different paths leading to human genetic modification and how they can be achieved. One form of human genetic modification may either be of somatic or of germline method. The somatic form of genetic modification only tries to modify genes of a specific organ or part of the body without ever affecting the general genetic makeup of the individual.

This form of genetic modification does not allow the transfer of the modified genes to the next generation. The genetic changes are not handed down to offspring as the genes in an individual’s egg or sperm is not affected in any way. This form of genetic modification is currently undergoing clinical trials and is a more accepted form than the germline method.

The germline form of genetic engineering is probably the more controversial of the two methods in that it aims to let the genetic changes pass on from generation to generation. In this method, gene modification is being done on the egg and sperm cells as well as early embryos that allow the modified genes to be a primary characteristic of the individual that can easily be transferred to the next generation.

This method has created some serious questions to be raised especially in the ethical as well as the moral aspects of the practice. With the germline method, scientists may be able to create possible human clones of another individual as well as give them the power to design human characteristics into each individual. Although such methods still require more research and studies, still the possibilities concern a lot of people and the possible consequences that they may bring.

 
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