Risks of Recombinant DNA Technology

Melissa Lamb
Slide Set by Melissa Lamb, updated more than 1 year ago
Melissa Lamb
Created by Melissa Lamb almost 4 years ago
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Description

Benefits of genetic engineering need to be weighed against the risks - both real and potential. This slide set outlines these risks.

Resource summary

Slide 1

    Risks of Recombinant DNA Technology
    Impossible to predict the ecological consequences of releasing genetically engineered organisms into the environment. The delicate balance that exists in any habitat may be damaged by the introduction of organisms with engineered genes. Most often, there is no going back once an organism is released into an environment - however, 'suicide genes' can be inserted into an organism or the organism engineered so it can only survive when a supplement is added.
    Any manipulation of a cell's DNA will have consequences for the metabolic pathways within that cell. By-products of change that may be produced cannot be seen until after the event has happened.Recombinant gene may pass from one organism to another e.g. viruses can transfer genes from one organism to another.

Slide 2

    Risks of Recombinant DNA Technology
    Genetically modified bacteria often have antibiotic resistance marker genes that have been added - these bacteria might spread antibiotic resistance to harmful bacteria. All genes mutate. Cannot be certain of the effects on the future evolution of organisms. Genetic fingerprinting is a highly reliable forensic tool - it has the ability to identify an individual's DNA accurately.
    Inevitable that we remain inquisitive about the wold in which we live and that we will seek to try to improve the conditions around us. Genetic research is bound to continue but the challenge will be to develop safeguards and ethical guidelines that will allow recombinant DNA technology to be used in a safe and effective manner.

Slide 3

    Consider These Questions
    What if a virus were to transfer genes for herbicide resistance and vigorous growth from a crop plant to a weed that competed with the crop? What if the same gene were transferred in pollen to other plants? How would we be able to control this weed? Manipulation of DNA in a cell could have consequences for the metabolic pathways within the cell - could these lead to metabolic malfunctions, cause cancer or create a new form of disease? What might be the consequences of engineered gene mutating? Could it turn an organism into a pathogen which cannot be controlled? What will be the long-term consequences of introducing new gene combinations? Will the artificial selection of 'desired' genes reduce the genetic variety that is so essential to evolution? What might be the financial consequences of developing plants and animals to grow in new regions?

Slide 4

    Consider These Questions
    How far can we take the technique of replacing defective genes? May be acceptable to replace a defective gene to cure cystic fibrosis but is it equally acceptable to introduce genes for intelligence, more muscular bodies, cosmetic improvements or different facial features? Will knowledge of and ability to change human genes lead to eugenics, whereby selection of genes leads to a means of selecting one race rather than the other? What will be the consequences of the ability to manipulate genes getting into the wrong hands? Will unscrupulous individuals, groups or governments use this power to achieve political goals, control opposition or gain ultimate power? Is the financial cost of recombinant DNA technology justified? Would the money be better used fighting hunger and poverty that are the cause of much human misery? Will sophisticated treatments, with their more high-profile images, be put before the everyday treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or haemorrhoids? Will such treatments only be within the financial reach of the better-off?

Slide 5

    Consider These Questions
    How easy would it be for someone to exchange a DNA sample maliciously, leading to wrongful conviction? Is it immoral to tamper with genes at all? Should we let nature take its own course in its own time? How do we deal with the issues surrounding the human genome project? Is it right that an individual or company can patent and therefore effectively own a gene?
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