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Cia Soto

Mr. Boyatt

PreAP English / Per 4

17 November 2014

Genetic Engineering

Throughout the years humanity has made astounding scientific breakthroughs around

experimenting in new things. Discoveries, made for better or worse, all have propelled us in our

technology and knowledge of the world around us. Like the times to decide whether or not to take

chances, genetic engineering has brought itself up to be quite a popular debate if it will be the next

breakthrough of enlightenment or a disaster waiting to happen. Like a coin, the results of genetic

engineering can have either outcome, and like a coin toss, which side it will land on is unknown. The

genetic engineering of plants has been carefully contemplated throughout the years as scientists decide

whether to risk this coin toss.

On one side of the coin, genetic engineering is seen to be merely a “more precise version of

traditional plant breeding” (Scott 70). Described as simply “gene splicing or recombinant DNA

technology”, it is implied that genetic engineering is not nearly as dangerous as it’s made out to be (Scott

70). In fact, this engineering technology can lead to several benefits such as farmers being able to “spend

less time on weed management” as the plant would already have been engineered to resist weed-killers or

weeds themselves altogether so that “the weeds… not the crops, die” (Shelton). With advances like so,

crop production would improve greatly. But not only that, but such engineering can also help with

producing healthier crops so they would be safer to consume.

On the flip side of the coin, however, genetically engineering crops can be rather harmful to

surrounding plants and ruin natural diversity. If crops were genetically enhanced to resist diseases, bugs,

weeds and other harmful things, they might result with “the ability to outcompete native species in the

environment and destroy natural biological systems” (Scott 67). Not only could this harm an ecosystem

and its natural ways altogether, but exposure from genetically altered plants also possess a risk of
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introducing “new genes [which] may result in unanticipated changes” (Scott 64). Three of the main safety

concerns for genetic pollution are “ allergens, toxins, and anti-nutrients” (Brackett). Alterations such as

these not only harm other plants, but humans too, when consumed as foods. Genetic pollution also risks

spreading antibiotic resistance against diseases.

However, despite these risks of safety concerns, there are contradicting possibilities that genetic

engineering may do just opposite of harm. When it occurs, “...C. Neal Stewart Jr. [argues]... genetic

pollution may sometimes be beneficial…” (Anderson). Let’s say that a species of plants was heavily

suffering from a dreadful disease, and then genes that assist resistance against that disease was acquired

through genetic pollution. The plant species would then be able to regrow and replenish itself as the

disease became less and less of an issue. Also, stated by researchers Prakash and Conko, there is a chance

that “foods [deriving] from genetically modified plants may be even safer…” than ordinarily produced

crops “...due to the precision of the technology and the testing that GE [Genetically Engineered] foods are

subjected to” (Scott 70). Since genetically engineered foods have to go through several tests and

inspections to make sure they are really safe, they are bound to be more secure on safety measures than

foods deriving from traditional farming methods due to their lesser testing; and after multiple tests it has

been reported that “‘nothing dangerous has happened’” as a result of the genetically engineered crops

(Third World Resurgence).

Meanwhile, other studies disregard the previous studies and tests for finding them “misleading”

stating that the “releases of GEOs into ‘test’ and [believing] that ‘nothing dangerous has happened’” were

false and “they have not been true ‘tests’ of safety since in the vast majority of cases they have only been

studies of commercial features” (Third World Resurgence). The release tests had not even been

specifically monitoring the categories of the causes or the safety concerns themselves. And not only that,

but the tests had been handled on short spans of time, when in reality, such tests can take five to even

hundreds of years to achieve accurate results from.

All in all, the mysteries of genetic engineering and all its possibilities leave its mark to this very

day. To take chances with its coin toss can end one way or another, or to not risk anything at all could
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advance or ruin the future in itself. But this advanced technology to tinker with the very building blocks

of life as we know it, will affect us all.

Works Cited Page

Anderson, Clifton E. "Biotech on the Farm: Realizing the Promise." Futurist Vol. 39, No. 51. Sept./Oct. 2005:
38-42. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
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Barbour, Scott. Genetic engineering. Detroit: Greenhouses Press, 2006. Print.

Brackett, Robert E. "The Regulation of Dietary Supplements: A Review of Consumer Safeguards." HHS
Testimony. 09 Mar. 2006: n.p. SIRS Government Reporter. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

Shelton, A.M. "The Role of Plant Biotechnology in the World's Food Systems." Economic Perspectives. Sept.
2003: 23-25. SIRS Government Reporter. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.

"The Need to Regulate and Control Genetic Engineering." Third World Resurgence (Penang, Malaysia).
Jan./Feb. 1995: 16-24. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.