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Osiagnięcia genetyczne - Możliwości i zagrożenia - Genetics Achievements - Opportunities and Threats

Genetic manipulations are slowly becoming a reality. We are getting accustomed to transgenic plants and animals or the possibility of testing unborn children for genetic defects. And in spite of the fact that we fear mass cloning of Frankensteins or despotic rulers, we should believe that achievements of contemporary research methods will not lead to this. The most important thing is to free people from suffering, and this will be possible thanks to genetic engineering. It is a science which can do a lot of good for us. One can mention cloning or transgenic products.

The July of 1996 was undoubtedly the time of one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. An ewe called Dolly was born on that day. Dolly is the first mammal that has been cloned. The pioneer experiment was carried out by Doctor Ian Wilmut, from the Roslin Institute in Scotland. The method consisted in the transplantation of the nucleus from cells of milk gland of an adult sheep.

Cloning can be a way to develop replacement organs or species of farm animals as well as provide us with remedies for incurable diseases, for example, Parkinson's disease.

Will humans be cloned as well? This question causes a lot of controversy.

Transgenic products are another achievement of genetic engineering. On the one hand, we all know that progress in science is inevitable, but on the other hand, gene experts are considered as sorcerers. Transgenic products are undoubtedly a great scientific revolution. Throughout its history, humanity has never disposed of a technology that offered such control over the forces of nature, with the exception of the atomic bomb. Genetically Modified Organisms are normal plants to which an alien gene has been added in a laboratory. This gene can come from another plant, bacterium, virus, animal or man. A plant so manipulated acquires a new property that is very useful. The mutations should make better crops, and show better resistance to viruses. Thanks to genetic engineering potatoes chips will absorb less fat. But new technologies, that give so much hope when medicine is concerned, cause fear and distrust while applied in agriculture and food industry. Why is that? The answer is that genes giving resistance to antibiotics are used in order to produce some mutants. The risk is that in the near future many diseases will be incurable because bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics.

In conclusion I would like to say that genetic engineering is a great achievement; it is like fire stolen from the Gods, but on the other hand it causes fear and distrust.

[Arkadiusz Szymczak]

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