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There are not many topics in today’s society that are so universally despised as much as genetic modification. The entire field of genetic tampering is seen as “dirty” and unnatural, when this could not be further from the truth. Genetic modification has been happening since the dawn of man, from simply domesticating animals, to picking only the crops that yielded the most, or were the easiest to replant. These processes even happen in nature, when various animals bred with animals with traits that are more suitable to survival. Alongside genetic modification, cloning is a hot topic ever since “Dolly” the sheep was cloned. Cloning would allow us to “create” safer meat that is better for us, and more ethical. This would eliminate the need for large slaughterhouses and all of the health concerns that comes with this. These problems could be remedied by educating the youth, and campaigning to make these sciences more socially acceptable. This social issue needs to be addressed as cloning, genetic modification of crops, and the commercial use of In vitro meat is the way of the future, and should be met with welcome arms, not by angry outcries and banishment of science.
In today’s literature, there are many exciting things happening in the fields of genetic alteration and In vitro meat. For example, in 2013 Dutch scientists created the world’s first In vitro burger, and according to the taste tester it was very similar to a regular beef burger, and this was a major success in the scientific world. In similar news, after the success of Dolly the sheep, many other animals were cloned, such as an Ibex, a water buffalo, and a camel. Finally, in the field of genetic modification, particularly in crops, many advanced have been made that have further increased the yield of crops, allowing smaller farms to produce more food, more effectively, and in harsher environments. While some people meet these advances with fierce resistance, it is the hope of many scientist today that people grow more accustomed to the future of genetic modification, as it will further the human race by leaps and bounds.
Genetic modification of organisms is not immoral on the grounds that it has been happening for ages. From the very start of civilization people have been participating in genetic modification without even knowing. When the first humans settled around 10,000 B.C, they began to grow crops that they had simply gathered before. Over time the crops they used became stronger. As this happened, humans began to select only the best crops, leading to what is essentially genetic modification, although not quite as advanced as genetics are now. In modern society, genetic modification is more important than ever with “steady growth in global population and food consumption place unprecedented demands on agriculture” (Fichtner). People have many misconceptions about cloning and genetic modification, and the idea of it being “unnatural” is a misnomer. Actually, genetic modification is very natural, and has been practiced by man and nature for years. Flowers can mix with other flowers by bees spreading different pollens, much like how humans first started picking the crops they wanted and didn’t grow the ones that were less desirable. Many crops, like corn and broccoli, had very little yield at first, but over time we increased the yield that the plants produce. By “advances [such as] gene targeting and genome editing” scientist have been able to increase the yield of crops (Fichtner). This has allowed humans to grow more, while using less land than before, and use more land for future development. Humans have even managed to make certain crops such as the venerable potato that were actually poisonous to eat eventually a safe and staple crop.
Cloning is another major issue that is argued about politically and socially. The first major use of cloning was the cloning of the sheep, “Dolly”. While the cloning took over 277 attempts to get right, it was nonetheless a success for the future of cloning biological organisms. The idea of “playing god” is one that bothers the mass public. People are not educated about the subject of cloning, and this could be the cause of people’s aversion towards cloning, even when it could be used to help humans, not just for food. Another use of cloning could be for production of organs to be used in human surgery; “Livestock with highly valued production characteristics could be targets for cloning” (Animal Cloning). Cloning is not very effective at the moment, with only a ten percent yield as of 2010 (Animal Cloning). The problem of cloning is one due to the infancy of the process. Understandably, many people find this an issue, as the costs are very high at the current state, However, this is sure to change in the future with many advances coming to fruition, allowing this industry to be cheaper and more efficient than ever before.
The final point I wish to address is the “yuck” factor of in vitro meat, which is discussed by Alexandre Erler in his research piece titled “In Vitro Meat, New Technologies, and the ‘Yuck Factor’”. While the future of In Vitro is being met with praise and hope by current scientists, people still are plagued by the ideas that lab meat is “unnatural” or it has the “yuck” factor. As said by Erler “Our negative gut reactions often do not track any facts” and by this he means that people react with their first instincts and not so much by the facts presented. The future of In Vitro meat should be met with open arms, as it solves many problems presented by mass production of animals. By creating meat in the lab, the carbon emissions that cattle produce can be reduced substantially, due to the lower need of cattle in fields. This also fixes the ethical issue of slaughterhouses, as it creates meat without hurting any creatures, and is much safer and cleaner than the current slaughterhouses. While the creation of meat in labs causes many people to be repulsed, the In Vitro meat is heavily scrutinized and constantly tested for safety reasons, due to people being so wary of the meat. As spoke before, the meat has been shown to almost taste as good as beef patties, with less fat and being better for one’s health than ground beef. This is the future of meat production, and is a solution to many problems that are faced by today’s meat industry.
In conclusion, the fields of science are rapidly advanced. If politics try to impede the progress of science, biologist and chemists of the field will move to other countries. It would be in the best interests of all countries to accept these new fields with open arms, and allow more money to fund research. More funding will allow better and more rapid advances, giving way to reducing land usage for domestic animals, and reducing carbon emissions greatly. Usage of genetically modified crops will allow the same amount of crops to produce more food, without using more land. This could help reduce global hunger, and would be a welcome sight to many starving countries such as Africa, or North Korea. Lastly, cloning could allow humans to live longer and more importantly better lives, as disease and injured organs could be replaced by grown or cloned organs. Overall, I find that all of these reasons more than dismiss any of the issues with these sciences, and will help humanity on the whole.
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