Genetic modification is commensurate with the use of various tools and techniques from the field of biotechnology aimed at changing the genetic makeup of an organism. Scientists have developed living beings that portray a unique trait that is found in the species (Glenn). In the early days of genetic engineering technology, researchers resorted to transgenesis which involved the transfer of genetic material between different bodies (Camara et al. 1). However, with technological advancement, transgenesis was replaced with other applications that allow the creation of genetically engineered animals through deletion and modification of their genes (Glenn). With the fast progress of technology, there has been a myriad of systems introduced including a companion, wild and farm animals, as well as model ones to be used in further scientific research (Ormandy 545-546).
Therefore, to some, it presents several possibilities that range from feeding the hungry and offering medical solutions to fighting diseases. Nonetheless, although the operation of genetic engineering has been on the rise in recent years, it has brought peril, especially regarding ethical concerns (Glenn). Both sides of the debate as to whether the utilization of technology is more justifiable than the moral issues raised against it are supported by a scientific rationale. Hence, strong evidence exists relating to the inexcusable application of genetic modification, as it creates fear because it is shrouded in uncertainties that contradict ethical convictions. The concerns range from the matters of species boundaries, and the patents paradox, to environmental factors among many others.
Counterarguments Concerning Genetic Modification
One of the major issues regarding genetic engineering encompasses the surrounding species boundary, as there are those individuals that believe that the technology exceeds the acceptable limits (Glenn). The restrictions suggested here include natural law, the law of morality, and disregard for God’s law. All the laws support the fixed nature and sharp delineation of species boundaries (Glenn). The opponents claim that there is a variety of species concepts that are not limited to biological, ecological, and evolutionary definitions (Ormandy 548). Another major ethical debate pertains to the problem of the economics of genetic engineering (Amin 4). The latter has enabled a reduction in costs of production when considering the expenses of rearing animals since the resistance to disease and assimilation of food for the animals have been easily achieved using technology (Camaraet al. 6). On the other hand, some perceive technological developments as a result of the expansion of multilateral economic interests (Amin 4).
Justification against Genetic Modification
Genetic modification is a sophisticated technology that believably requires specialized laboratories and favorable environmental conditions for work (Amin 2). Moreover, the advancements in the field are so rapid that they cause fear and doubts creating worldwide divisive debates on the risks that they may pose to humans, their environment, and society (Camara et al. 3). According to one study, “everyday complex issues surrounding the ethics of the technology are emerging, and the fact that there is limited public knowledge makes it murkier” (Amin 2). However, it has also been mentioned that the rapidness and radical technological change have their repercussions, which will be felt for a long time and the consequences may be irreversible in the end (Amin 2). Therefore, genetic engineering cannot be justifiable in any way since for a large part the technology invades the root of what is natural balance.
Many definitions accorded to species are believed to reflect a great number of theories and purposes for which people understand and use different species based on how each concept is introduced (Glenn). Consequently, if the issue of species boundaries is just a naming convention, and fixed limits do not exist, those involved in genetic engineering technology encounter fewer philosophical hurdles. Another study conducted to spell out various impacts of genetic engineering further concludes that “capabilities of changing of human characteristics through the technology are uncertain” (Patra 10).
Furthermore, the explorations during the research are at stake in the genetic engineering industry, and laboratories are in pursuit of patenting gene discoveries and functions (Ormandy et al. 549). Therefore, those who hold the view that it is all about the economic benefit, in the end, perceive a situation whereby “breaking ethical rules to be on top is all that would matter to the scientists” as suggested in a study that observe ethical problems brought by both cloning and transgenesis of animals (Camara et al. 12).
In addition, differing worldviews posit a moral debate on crossing the species boundaries, and the risks that are associated with the transplantation of animal cells and organs to humans are widely known. According to Glenn MacDonald’s research, “there are diseases such as mad cow disease and porcine endogenous retrovirus have been known to be transmitted to humans through being small incidences they pose a significant risk” (Glenn). Of course, the introduction of these disorders could pose an unprecedented epidemic to the human population. To highlight the severity of the danger, Glenn MacDonald states that the “U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of xenotransplantation in trials that involved nonhuman primates until the research community could provide sufficient assurances that the procedures were safe” (Glenn). However, “other fields of technology are emerging that would add to the already complex social, legal and ethical issues that include stem cell engineering and 3-D printing according to research looking into the risks of genetically modified organisms” (Prakash et al. 2).
Moreover, patenting is a problem because it is a big game for multinationals, which are world leaders in genetic engineering. The study that explores the ethical points of modern biotechnology asserts that “companies are at freedom to exploit consumers or farmers since they determine which genes require modifications and release better versions thus inhibiting the use of a single animal for future reproduction” (Amin 5-6). Since the profits from the business prove to be high yielding, it is hard to believe that the scholars are purely motivated by the goal of helping society as a whole. The research that considers the moral aspects of transgenic and cloned animals raises the question of “whether the scientist is not led by the market and the soft foods brought by the patent” (Camara et al. 6). Hence, when the technological projections are made, and the result will bring enormous benefits for the multinationals involved, the ethical dimension ceases to be of concern. In the long run, economic interests take precedence over public ones leading to massive losses on the well-being of animals as well as the environment.
From the pieces of evidence presented above, trespassing species boundaries can result in unforeseeable catastrophic harm to the human population, and the fact that while the current ethical issues have not been addressed, advancement in genetic manipulation technologies constitutes other predicaments. Patenting is a huge business in a genetic modification that makes the scientific community to be driven by self-interest and the reward of professional loyalties. Thus, the moral considerations about genetic engineering have proved to be broad and cannot be entirely exhausted. The ethical matters related to personal lives, environmental concerns, business, and animal ethics in addition to religious matters. Consequently, thorough an understanding of the scientific facts about the damage of genetic engineering, the negatives of the technology outweigh the positives. The reason is that moral aspects remain largely unaddressed by the scientific community. Therefore, genetic modification is not justifiable in light of all the ethical issues engulfing the technology.
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