Playing God: gene-ius or heinous?

There's no doubt that the world of gene editing and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is quite controversial. For ethical, moral and religious reasons, to name, perhaps, the three most important, it arouses raw emotions. Many scientists argue that gene experiments and modifications, on both plants and animals, are leading to a better quality of life for the organisms they are carried out on as well as for human beings in general. On the other side of the argument, you have those who say 'playing god' should never be done, even if it is for initially good reasons.

From the scientists' perspective, gene editing can and does improve certain things. For example, a number of plant food crops that were previously prone to attack from insects or fungi have had their genes modified to make them resistant to these. The same sort of work has been done with animals, especially those bred for human consumption. And while there are many more legal restrictions on modifying human genes, it is seen as important in finding cures to a range of diseases.

Yet for all the good it may bring, to interfere with Mother Nature in such a way could lead to unforeseen and unwanted side effects. This is the fear of those who are opposed to it. For example, in Korea the genes of a pig were modified to make it super muscular. However, it's unknown the effect changing one gene does to the animal. The pig may suffer disease more easily compared to others or could have mental issues.

The classic science fiction/horror book Frankenstein's Monster focused on the problems of man trying to interfere with natural processes. As dated as that book is, people's fears of such things still exist. The fact is, mankind interferes with nature; we always have and we always will. Sometimes it's for good, other times for bad — whether a negative result is wanted or not. If both humans' lives and that of the planet are improved, then you have to say it's a positive thing. If only it could always be that way.

 Prepared by: JZEnglish

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