Genetically modified of animals Essay

Genetic modification of animals is the act of altering or changing its DNA or even adding genetic material in a manner that is not in line with natural occurrence. The main purpose is to do away with some undesirable, or to introduce some desirable trait in the genetic make-up of the animal. For example, it may involve adding a trait that will enable the animal to be disease resistance. This paper purposes to look at genetically modified animals. The paper will discuss the biological basis, ethical considerations, and give an opinion considering the issue. In order to make a comprehensive discussion, the paper is divided into subtopics.

Biological basis of genetically modified animals

Genetic engineering is the discipline that deals with changing the traits of organisms by introducing the recombinant DNA into the already existing genetic make-up of an organism (U.S Food and Drug Administration, 2012). DNA technology involves splicing the pieces of DNA, and then introducing the spliced pieces of the DNA segment into a new organism, with an aim to changing its traits. The recombinant DNA segment is the spliced recombinant construct that is involved in the introduction of new traits to an already existing gene, in natural form. The resulting organism will be carrying known traits of recombinant DNA segments in their genetic make-up. The process of making up the recombinant DNA segment involves joining the fragments together through scientific monitoring in the laboratory.

When the recombinant DNA construct in present in the resulting animal, it usually expresses the proteins, or the traits that were present in the transgenic animal genome (Enennaam, 2008).
For a better understanding of this concept of genetic engineering of animals, it is important to note that genes compose of four nucleotide building blocks that are the same. Therefore, regardless of where the gene was got from, whether animal, plant or even a microbe, it results in expression of the same proteins (Enennaam, 2008). In the treatment of human diseases, for example, therapeutic proteins are expressed in the genes of transgenic animals. This principle is the underlying knowledge that has been used in the production of the genetically modified animals. In this case, proteinous genes that enable animals fight diseases, or even be disease-resistant are applied. Further, proteins that enable animals produce healthy products, like milk and eggs, are also applied in genetic engineering.

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (2012), there are several types of animals that are targeted in genetic engineering. Research animals may be engineered in a way that will predispose them to diseases that scientists target for scientific inventions, for example, in the understanding of the disease. Transplantation in human beings is a needy issue in the world today. For this reason, xenoplants are being engineered to look at the possibility of their provision of transplants for human beings. On the same note, food use animals are being engineered with a view to providing healthier food to the populations. Also, there are biopharm animals that are being engineered to be used in the production of certain substances for use in pharmaceutics, such as production of insulin.

On the same line, there are disease-resistant animals that are being engineered in order to act as a back-up for the biopharm animals (U.S Food and Drug Administration, 2012).
It is also important to differentiate clones and genetically modified animals. According to Enennaam (2008), clones are just but copies of individual animals. They do not contain the recombinant DNA genomes and the fragments like the genetically modified animals. Also, it is possible to produce a genetically modified animal through the process of cloning. The difference comes in that clones do not contain the traits that are in the genetically modified animals.

Social and ethical implications:

The action of producing genetically modified animals comes with benefits, risks, negative effects, as well as, ethical implications. There are several benefits that are related to genetic engineering. Novel proteins, for example, are produced using genetic engineering. This is very beneficial for applications in human medicine, as well as, agriculture. Therapeutics in medicine has benefited a lot owing to genetic engineering (Enennaam, 2008). Treatment of human disease has benefited with therapeutic proteins that are required for testing of drugs before they are introduced to human beings. Further, genetic engineering has enabled production of animals that are resistant to diseases, enabling preservation of endangered species. This has also helped in rearing of animals and modifying them for the production of certain therapeutic materials such as human insulin for use in the hospital. Further, the healthy value of products from animals like milk and eggs has been improved through genetic engineering.

However, genetic engineering is not without negative effects. Animal welfare concerns have been raised following variable expression of transgenic genes in the offspring generation (Thompson, 1993). This has, for example, come in the form of genetic engineering. Further, it is argued by scientists that genetic engineering of animals is meant to increase the number of animals and make them resistant to diseases. Although this move is welcome, people with several beliefs, including the belief that nature should not be interrupted feel threatened by the issue. In addition, eating genetically modified animal foods has been found to be with many negative effects. Food allergies have been reported. Further, the toxicity levels of the body increases, and the reproductive function is greatly affected.

One can give birth to children with defects. It also affects the digestive system by increasing the generation of harmful bacteria. Apart from these, there are other unknown negative effects to human beings. Therefore, the use of genetically modified animals as foods is considered unethical.

Ethical implications follow genetic modification of organisms. Firstly, there are people who are totally uncomfortable with the alteration of the ethical form (Thompson, 1993). They view this action as going against their belief in a supernatural being. Further, animal rights activists argue that genetic engineering of animals invades the sobriety of the integrity of the animals. Also, it is connected with interfering with the genetic make-up of the animal, and the outward expression of the particular animal. There have also been social concerns and arguments concerning accidental, unintentional, or even intentional mixing of human and animal genes.

Proponents of these arguments argue that such would result in many negative implications to the human race, and as such, animal engineering should be stopped by all means. Also, the allocation of the scarce resources involved or resulting from genetic engineering is an issue of concern (Thompson, 1993). The issue of species boundaries and the consequences of blurring them is raising a heated debate in the sector of animal engineering. If mixing of species leading to desirable characteristics that would result to severe consequences happen, this would be very disastrous to the human race. For this very reason, it is considered unethical to carry out animal engineering.

Personal view point:

In the pronouncement of my view point on this matter, my concern is the effect of genetically modified animals on human beings when used for human consumption. The effects in the form of allergy, digestive system effects, reproductive system effects, and as well, psychological effect on the affected, is not welcome at any costs. Further, the fears expressed concerning an accidental or even intentional mix up of species is a cause of alarm. The possibility of giving birth to a malformed child following consumption of genetically modified foods is live with the people. With such kind of effects, I opine that genetic engineering of animals should not be allowed. Further, I am a defender of the natural course. Genetic engineering interferes with the natural course of existence, and changes the natural make-up. This interferes with my psychological perception of genetically modified organisms, and the foods that are derived from them. This counts as another reason why I am not for supporting genetic engineering of animals. However, it is not advisable to look only at the demerits. Since this technique is beneficial to human therapeutics, the best treatment of the subject is to regulate genetic engineering.

In conclusion, genetic engineering leads to production of healthier animals, that are resistant to diseases. It has benefits, negative effects, and as well, ethical implications. Since the issue is a debate, and is controversial, it is important that it is regulated by the government to protect the interests of the people.

References

Enennaam, V.A. (2008). Genetically engineered animals: an overview. California, CA: University of California.
Thompson, P.B. (1993). Genetically modified animals: ethical issues. Journal of Animal Science, 71 (1993): 51-56
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2012). Animal and Veterinary: Genetically engineered animals. U.S. Department of Health and Human services. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/