April 8, 2013
The Pros of Genetic Engineering: Why ‘Playing God’ Could Help The Human Race
Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Despite the frequently encountered argument that scientists are ℠playing God´ with nature, the pros of genetic engineering are numerous and significant.
When discussing genetically modified organisms (GMO), it is important to note that the FDA and the World Health Organization have both deemed that the food products created with the technology are considered safe.
GMO produce has several genetically altered advantages over non-GMO fruits and vegetables, including increased resistance to pests, disease and drought.
These benefits of genetic engineering translate directly into cheaper prices. A recent Iowa State University study found that prices would be at least 10 percent higher for soybeans and 6 percent higher for corn worldwide without biotechnical modifications.
Some GMOs have even been found to taste better than their conventional counterparts. In a study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers found that as many as 60 percent of the people they surveyed actually preferred the taste of a genetically modified tomato.
The study focused on a particular modified tomato that had the genetically engineered advantage of a rose-scented compound that was coded into the tomato genome. The researchers said their study proves that food products can not only be made more resilient through biotechnology, but that they can also be made more flavorful.
The pros of genetic engineering can also be seen in fields besides agriculture. Scientists at the Department of Energy revealed that they have created a modified virus capable of generating electrochemical energy. Using the genetically modified viruses, they were able to create a device that is powered simply by applying pressure.
Cancer researchers and patients are also constantly reaping the benefits of genetic engineering. Many experimental treatments use genetically modified viruses to target and destroy cancer cells. A recent study showed that oncologists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York were able to effectively treat a specific form of acute leukemia using genetically engineered viruses.
Finally, it should be noted that one of the earliest critics of the anti-GMO movement is now one of the greatest advocates of the advantages of genetic engineering technology. British writer Mark Lynas railed against genetically modified crops throughout the 1990s and early part of the last decade. However, Lynas recently had a change of heart and now he openly defends the technology.
In January, Lynas spoke to Oxford Farming Conference about genetic engineering pros, including use of the technology to feed the world´s poorest people.
“As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path. I now regret it completely,” he said.