Every organism has DNA, and this DNA held in every cell of your body. It is like a blueprint that describes how a cell of your bode should operate and also your characteristics. Genetic Engineering or Genetic modification is the modification or manipulation of these "Blueprints" to change the characteristics of an organism.
Although the understanding of genetics has not been around long, humans have really been controlling the genetics of organisms for thousands of years. One of the most common forms of control is to selectively allow only the organisms with the best traits to breed. This would give the offspring characteristics of the best possible parent.
Over the last few years, Genetic engineering has only been seen from a bad point of view. The media has failed to emphasise the importance of genetic engineering and have used many excuses against genetic engineering:
- People believe humans should not be modifying the genetic makeup of other organisms
- Ever since agriculture and the domestication of animals and plants began man has been modifying their genetic make-up by selective breeding (e.g. broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage came from a single species of mustard).
- Genetic Engineering is unnatural
- All technology is unnatural.
- Biotechnologists are playing God.
- "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (Genesis 1:26)
- "Human beings are themselves part of nature, creatures within creation. Human discovery and invention can be thought of as resulting from the exercise of God-given powers of mind and reason." (Church of England Board)
There are also a lot of reasons to use genetic engineering:
- Genetic engineering reduces costs of production. This means that the poor can afford more food, and be more self sufficient.
- Better resistance to weeds, pests and disease
- Better texture, flavour and nutritional value.
- Longer shelf life, easier shipment.
- Better yield, more efficient use of land.
- Less herbicides and other chemicals.
- Cheaper and safer source of human medicine
- Pest and disease resistance
- Herbicide resistance
- Easier to harvest plants
- Increased productivity
- Fewer agricultural and horticultural chemicals needed
- Fewer chemical residues in food chain
- Remove undesirable characteristics
- Design what people want or need
- Improve or add desirable characteristics
- Reduce management costs