The dangers of Genetic Engineering.

The dangers of Genetic Engineering.

Many years have gone by during which researchers have attempted to develop synthetic life, also known as life that was manufactured in a laboratory. Around thirty years ago, genetic engineers made the first step toward successfully genetically modifying creatures. This was the first significant advancement in this procedure . These genetic engineers physically shift genes from one species to another in order to enhance the functioning of an organism or to cause the functioning of an organism to change. Genetically engineered creatures are ubiquitous, despite the fact that the method of creating them seems like something that could only take place in a fantasy game. For instance, genetically modified crops are employed on a daily basis in the production of food all over the globe, while genetically engineered microorganisms have been used in the production of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and even bioweapons . Genetic engineering is gradually becoming a potent technology that may be used in a variety of contexts. A well-known biologist and entrepreneur named Craig Venter recently succeeded in recreating a live creature out of synthetic molecules, which contributed to a rise in the potential power of genetic engineering. The success of his experiment demonstrated to genetic engineers that functional genomes may be constructed entirely of synthetic molecules. Instead of needing to tweak naturally occurring genomes, genetic engineers would be able to create new artificial genomes if they had access to this capacity. Now more than ever, genetic engineers have the opportunity to expand the scope of their areas' applications. However, genetic engineering is a risky endeavor because of its unpredictability and the fact that expanding its applications simply increases the dangers it poses. Organisms created by genetic engineering present threats to human health as well as the economy.

Possible Consequences to Human Health

The following are some possible unfavorable consequences that genetically modified organisms may have on human health in the future. The majority of these cases are linked to the cultivation and consumption of foods that have been modified through genetic engineering. Similar to the hazards that are linked with plants, the risks that are associated with genetically altered animals would mostly be determined by the new characteristics that were introduced into the creature.

In the Food Supply, there Are Now New Allergens

 

Transgenic crops have the potential to introduce new allergens into the food supply, which sensitive people may not be able to avoid. Transferring the gene for one of the several allergenic proteins present in milk into plants like carrots is one example of this. Mothers who are aware they should not give their sensitive children milk are unlikely to be aware that they should not give their children transgenic carrots that contain milk proteins. Because genetic engineering is the only technique that can transfer proteins across species borders into animals that are not even remotely related to one another, the difficulty is exclusive to this technique.

Proteins from creatures that have never been eaten as foods are often introduced into the food supply via the use of genetic engineering. Given that proteins make up the vast majority of known food allergens, it is possible that some of those proteins cause allergic reactions in certain people when they eat them. Concerns that genetic engineering would turn foods that were previously safe allergic have been substantiated by recent study. According to the findings of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska, people who are allergic to Brazil nuts have symptoms when they consume soybeans that have been genetically altered to include proteins from Brazil nuts.

There is a degree of uncertainty around the capacity of scientists to forecast whether or not a certain protein, if taken by people, would cause an allergic reaction. Experience is the only way to know for certain whether or not a protein will act as an allergy for a person. Therefore, importing proteins, especially those derived from sources other than food, is a risky business in terms of the allergenic potential of such proteins.

Antibiotic Resistance

In genetic engineering, "selectable markers" often take the form of antibiotic-resistant gene variants. These indicators assist identify cells that have taken up foreign genes at an early stage in the process of genetic engineering. Even if there is no longer a use for them, the genes continue to be expressed in the plant tissues. The majority of foods made from genetically modified plants include antibiotic-resistant genes that are fully functional.

There is a potential for two negative outcomes as a result of antibiotic-resistant genes being present in food. In the first place, consuming certain foods while also taking antibiotics may lessen the efficacy of the antibiotics in their ability to combat illness. Antibiotic-resistance genes create enzymes that can breakdown antibiotics. It is possible that an antibiotic will be rendered ineffective in the stomach if an antibiotic is taken at the same time as a raw tomato containing an antibiotic-resistant gene is consumed.

Second, the transfer of antibiotic-resistant genes to human or animal infections might render such pathogens immune to treatment with antibiotics. Should the transmission take place, it has the potential to make an already significant public health issue—the development of antibiotic resistance in disease organisms—even worse. In spite of the fact that the direct transfer of genetic material from plants to bacteria is a very remote possibility, any potential that it may take place has to be thoroughly investigated due to the gravity of the issue of antibiotic resistance.

In addition, the widespread presence of antibiotic-resistance genes in engineered food suggests that as the number of genetically engineered products grows, the effects of antibiotic resistance should be analyzed cumulatively across the food supply. This is something that needs to be done because it could have a significant impact on public health.

 

Creation of New Carcinogens and Mutagens

The capacity to manufacture poisonous chemicals is shared by a wide variety of species. Such chemicals, when present in plants, assist to protect stationary organisms against the various predators that are native to their habitat. Plants may sometimes have dormant pathways that eventually lead to the production of hazardous chemicals. It is possible that the addition of additional genetic material via genetic engineering can reawaken dormant pathways or in some other manner raise the quantities of harmful compounds that are produced by the plants. This may happen, for example, if the on/off signals linked with the newly introduced gene were positioned on the genome in regions where they could activate genes that had been dormant before the gene was imported.

High concentration of hazardous metals

Some of the new genes that are being introduced into agricultural plants have the ability to take heavy metals such as mercury from the soil and concentrate them in the plant tissue. The cultivation of such plants is done with the intention of making feasible the use of municipal sewage as fertilizer. Even though sludge contains nutrients that plants may consume, it is often unfit for use as fertilizer because it is loaded with heavy metals that are hazardous to humans. The goal is to genetically modify plants in order to extract and store these metals in the non-edible sections of the plant. In a tomato, for instance, the metals would be stored in the roots, but in potatoes, they would be stored in the leaves. The usage of genetic on/off switches that are activated exclusively in certain plant tissues, such as leaves, is necessary if one wishes to activate the genes in just a subset of the plant's sections. < p> If the on/off switches in edible tissues are not entirely switched off, these items have the potential to contaminate food with high concentrations of hazardous metals, which may have adverse health effects. After the plants have been harvested, there are additional environmental dangers connected with the processing and disposal of the metal-contaminated plant components.

The Promotion of an Environment Favorable to Toxic Fungi

Even while the majority of health hazards are due to the genetic material that has been freshly introduced into organisms, it is still possible for the removal of genes and gene products to be the source of issues. For instance, genetic engineering might be used to generate decaffeinated coffee beans by removing or silencing genes that are related with the synthesis of caffeine. However, caffeine helps protect coffee beans against the growth of fungus. There is a possibility that beans that are unable to generate caffeine are covered with fungus, which may release poisons. Toxins produced by fungi, such as aflatoxin, are among the most dangerous to humans and may maintain their lethal potential even after being subjected to various cooking methods.

Unknown Risks to Health

As is the case with all emerging forms of technology, the entire scope of the dangers that are linked with genetic engineering have probably definitely not been uncovered. Because of our presently inadequate knowledge of physiology, genetics, and nutrition, our capacity to envision what may possibly go wrong with a technology is constrained.

Potentially Harmful Effects on the Environment Increased Weediness

One approach to think about the potential damage that genetically modified plants may do to the surrounding ecosystem is to examine the possibility that these plants could spread uncontrollably and become invasive species. When we talk about weeds, we're referring to any plant that grows in an area where people do not want it. This word encompasses a wide range of situations, from Johnson grass smothering crops in fields to kudzu covering trees to melaleuca trees encroaching on Everglades wetlands. In each instance, the plants are growing without any assistance from people in locations where they are causing undesirable impacts. In agriculture, weeds may be a significant factor in reducing crop productivity. In uncontrolled areas such as the Everglades, invasive trees may displace native vegetation and cause entire ecosystems to be disrupted.

Some weeds are the consequence of the unintentional introduction of non-native plants, but the majority of weeds were introduced on purpose for agricultural and horticultural objectives. Johnson grass, multiflora rose, and kudzu are three examples of plants that were purposefully brought to the United States but have now become problematic invasive species. It is possible that a novel combination of features developed as a consequence of genetic engineering may make it possible for crops to grow unassisted in the environment in conditions in which they would otherwise be deemed new or even worse, weeds. An example of this would be a rice plant that was genetically modified to be able to withstand high levels of salt yet somehow managed to escape cultivation and spread into neighboring saltwater estuaries.

Gene Transfer to Relatives That Are Wild or Weedy

It is not guaranteed that novel genes introduced into crops will remain in agricultural fields. It is simple for the new gene to spread by pollen from one plant to another if there are related plants growing in the vicinity of the field where the changed crops are being grown. It's possible that the new features may provide wild or weedy cousins of agricultural plants the capacity to flourish in unfavorable environments, so transforming those plants into weeds according to the definition given above. For instance, a gene that modifies the oil profile of a crop may spread into adjacent weedy cousins, where the modified oil profile would make it possible for the seeds to survive the colder months. The plant's ability to survive the winter might enable it to become a weed, or it could amplify the weedy traits it currently has.

Change in Herbicide Use Patterns

Crops that have been genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicides that are used on them are inextricably tied to the usage of certain chemical pesticides. Because of this, the cultivation of these crops may result in modifications to the combination of chemical herbicides that are used across the country. These shifting patterns might ultimately result in larger amounts of environmental damage on the whole, to the degree that the toxicity of chemical herbicides varies across the board. In addition, the widespread use of herbicide-resistant crops may hasten the development of herbicide resistance in weeds. This may occur either as a direct result of the herbicide's increased concentration in the environment or as a direct result of the transfer of the herbicide trait to the weedy relatives of crop species. Due to the fact that different herbicides cause different degrees of damage to the environment, it is possible that the elimination of some herbicides will have a negative impact on the ecosystem as a whole.

Loss of Valuable Genes Associated with Resistance to Pests p> There are several bug species that have genes that make them vulnerable to pesticides. These genes for vulnerability often have a greater frequency of occurrence in wild populations of insects. These genes are a vital natural resource because they ensure that pesticides will continue to be effective instruments for the control of pests. More desirable are the genes that render a pest receptive to a pesticide when that poison is less harmful.

Certain genetically altered crops pose a risk to the continuous vulnerability of pests to the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt toxin, which is one of nature's most effective and useful insecticides. These so-called "Bt crops" are the result of genetic engineering in which a gene for the Bt toxin was inserted into the plant's DNA. Pests are continually put in contact with the toxin since it is produced in the majority of the plant's tissues during the whole of the plant's life cycle. Continuous exposure like this helps to select for the presence of uncommon resistance genes among a population of pests, which, over time, will make the Bt insecticide ineffective unless certain precautions are taken to prevent the establishment of such resistance.

Animals and Flora Poisoned

The introduction of alien genes into plants has the potential to have severe repercussions for the surrounding fauna in a variety of different contexts. The genetic modification of agricultural plants, such as tobacco or rice, for the production of plastics or medicines, for instance, might damage mice or deer since these animals devour the crops or crop debris that is left in the fields after harvesting. It is possible that other fish, as well as fish-eating birds and mammals, might be put in danger if they devour genetically modified fish that have been bred to have metal-sequestering proteins (these fish have been proposed as living pollution clean-up devices).

The Development of Unprecedented Viruses, Some of Which Are Even Deadlier Than Before

The development of crops that are resistant to viruses is one of the most widespread applications of genetic engineering. The incorporation of viral DNA into plant genomes is a necessary step in the production of such crops. Plants that produce viral components on their own are resistant to later infection by the viruses that they produce, for reasons that are not fully understood. Recombination and transcapsidation are two techniques that may be used by such plants to produce new viruses that are more dangerous than those that already exist. These are two of the hazards that come with growing such plants.It is possible for the viral genes generated by plants and the closely similar viral genes carried by arriving viruses to recombine. Recombination of this kind might result in the production of viruses that are able to infect a larger variety of hosts or that are more dangerous than their parents.

During the process of transcapsidation, the genetic material of one virus is encased inside the viral proteins that are generated by the plant. These hybrid viruses have the potential to transmit viral genetic material to a new host plant, which is a plant they would not normally be able to infect. Because the viral genetic material does not carry any genes for the foreign proteins inside which it was encased, it would not be able to form a second generation of hybrid viruses. This means that the impact would only happen once, with very limited exceptions.

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