Ethical Issues in the Use of Information Technology in Genetic Engineering

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Genetic Engineering and its Ethical Issues

Genetic engineering is the manipulation of an organism's genes using biotechnology. Different technologies are used to alter the genetic components of cells which include the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries with aims of producing improved organisms. The use of information technology in genetic engineering in crops and humans has led to numerous difficult as well as interesting ethical issues which affect the human societies in many ways. For instance, the application of genetic technologies in cloning, stem cells, genetic manipulation, and gene therapy has created great potential for the human race to change and influence human life on earth (Bruce, 2014).

Discussion

Technology supports genetic engineering in different ways. To start with, it provides the context of genetic engineering in overall crop and human improvement through the provision of different ways of plant-breeding methods that allows rapid advances when it comes to the basic knowledge concerning crop and human breeding. Additionally, genomic technologies are currently being used to produce extensive genetic-diversity information on different species that is used to raise new crop types through techniques such as MAS (Dona & Arvanitoyannis, 2009). Moreover, technology has helped scientists to develop organisms that can express a novel trait that is mainly not found in other species. For instance, through technology, scientists have been able to produce genetically modified potatoes that are rich in protein as well as rice with elevated levels of vitamin A commonly known as 'Golden Rice'.

Ethical Issues in Genetic Engineering

Ethical issues in the use of information technology when it comes to the field of genetic engineering occur at different stages of the generation as well as the life span of the genetically engineered animals. The primary ethical issue surrounding the use of technology in the implementation of genetic engineering in crops and animals is the idea that the technologies can lead to a slave race of sub-humans that can be exploited (Almond, 2000). For example, the blending of human and animal DNA can lead to chimeric entities with degrees of intelligence never seen before in nonhuman animals. The ethical issue is whether information technology can be used to give the entities rights and special protection.

Another ethical issue involving the use of information technology in genetic engineering is the accepted ethics of scientific animal use involving the three Rs principle: reduction of the number of animals, refinement of husbandry as well as practices to reduce pain, and replacing animals with non-animals options. The main aim of the principle is to reduce the pain and distress that animals experience during the experiment (Bruce, 2014). However, despite the use of information technology to reduce the distress and pain there is evidence of public concern going past the three Rs which involves the development of as well as the use of genetically engineered animals.

Additionally, there are ethical issues which relate to the methods of creating the new species. Scientists have used information technology to create a generation of new and improved genetically engineered line of animals and crops (Dona & Arvanitoyannis, 2009). The process, however, sacrifices some crops and animals mainly through surgical procedures such as surgical embryo transfers on others. For instance, when creating genetically engineered animals, the oocyte and blastocyst donor female are induced to superovulate through intraperitoneal. The ethical issue, in this case, is whether information technology can be used to refine the genetic engineering technique so that less invasive methods are feasible.

Another ethical issue of using information technology in genetic engineering is the concern that when a changed gene is put into an individual, the process is irreversible (Almond, 2000). The main concern is that disease-causing organisms used in rDNA experiments can lead to infectious forms that can result in global epidemics.

According to different research works, genetic engineering in crops and humans presents numerous ecological problems. For example, the release of genetically engineered species causes an imbalance in the ecology of different regions while unknown results lead to even more problems. When an accident occurs in engineering the genetics of particular bacteria, there are high chances that the results will be a stronger type which is capable of causing serious epidemics when released (Dona & Arvanitoyannis, 2009). Additionally, genetic engineering can lead to unknown side effects. Various changes in plants and animals can lead to unexpected allergic reactions in certain individuals which, in normal forms did not occur.

Conclusion

It is clear from the discussion that the use of information technology in genetic engineering has presented numerous ethical issues which need to be dealt with. It is, however, worth noting that despite the countless ethical issues of using information technology in genetic engineering, there should be restrictions on the disposal of the genetically engineered crops and animals once they have been euthanized. This will help in restricting the access of genetically engineered remains into the ecosystem which would turn out to be another ethical issue.

References

Almond, B. (2000). Commodifying animals: Ethical issues in genetic engineering of animals. Health, Risk & Society, 2(1), 95-105.

Bruce, D. (2014). Engineering genesis: Ethics of genetic engineering in non-human species. New York: Routledge.

Dona, A., & Arvanitoyannis, I. S. (2009). Health risks of genetically modified foods. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 49(2), 164-175.

September 04, 2023
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Science

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Genetic Engineering

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