Genetic Engineering Vs. Biotechnology

Published: 2021-09-14 23:40:09
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Many people are unaware of what genetic engineering or biotechnology is and many believe that it is the same thing. This research task aims at determining whether or not genetic engineering can be regarded as biotechnology. This task is a research task that includes an investigative research project as well as a literary research project. The main focus and topic of this task is the topic of Biotechnology and it specifically focuses on biotechnology and genetic engineering. The question that is required to be answered within this research task is “can genetic modification be regarded as biotechnology”. In order to answer this question and complete this research task, I firstly had to do some research on what biotechnology is and what genetic engineering is and I had to do further in-depth research on each of the methods such as: examples of each, the advantages and disadvantages of each and the ethical issues that arises with both methods as well as my personal opinion on what the two methods entail and whether or not it can be considered the same thing. Furthermore, I did some research on the internet to find answers to the questions that was presented to us in the instructions (phase 1), thereafter, I formulated research questions that I would ask various people regarding their views and thoughts and opinions on both biotechnology and genetic engineering. I also stated the aim, importance and exactly how I was going to present and ask these questions to these people and how I would present and analyse my findings and results from the survey research that I did (phase 2). Thereafter, I had to draw up the survey and send it out to the various people to gather and get some insight on their opinions on both biotechnology and genetic engineering and whether or not they are familiar with what these methods are as well as their thoughts on it regarding the advantages, disadvantages and ethical issues on both biotechnology and genetic engineering. After I sent out the surveys, I received responses from the various people I sent it out to. Thereafter, I would analyse the data and responses I got and draw up the literary report part of this task whereby I would compare the responses I got from the surveys to the investigative research where I did research on both biotechnology and genetic engineering. I will take the primary and secondary research I obtained from the various sources and I will then analyse and compare their different or similar responses and with the analysis and results of these sources, I will be able to come to a conclusion and effectively answer the research question of whether or not genetic engineering can be regarded as biotechnology.Literature Review:
What is biotechnology?
Biotechnology is described as the manipulation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones, etc. The main features of biotechnology include are that it is mostly used to help people, it is used to improve crops and agriculture and it is used to maintain and preserve wildlife and resources in the case such as producing GM insulin. The main feature and purpose if to ultimately improve and better people’s lives and living conditions as well as preserve the crops, wildlife and lifespan.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
A GMO is described as an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of either genetic engineering or biotechnology so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. GMO’s is a very controversial subjects to many people based on many different opinions and viewpoints and thus, this type of biotechnology comes with a lot of advantages and disadvantages such as, advantages namely, GMO produces crops allow for more profit because the farmers spend less time and money on resources to maintain the GMO crops and the quality of the GMO crops is also higher than that of normal crop, thus it is able to last longer. Labour is also not that intense with harvesting GMO crops because of its gene modification, thus GMO products also cost a bit less than normal crops therefore more people would be able to afford it. GMO products are also designed to resist harmful pests and therefore do not need to be sprayed with pesticides. Most nutritionist recommend that people rather eat GMO product as opposed to non-GMO products because it has more nutritional value due to the GMO technique adding vitamins and minerals it lacks. However, with every advantage, there are disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages to GMO’s are, it can possibly be harmful to the insects that are important to the ecosystem such as bees and butterflies because of the modified genes that cause the crops to be resistant to pests and this sparks the growth of more weeds. It can also cause damage to the environment because it is not a natural way of harvesting and cultivating crops and some countries are unable to get hold of these products because of issues such as trade tariffs and quotas. GMO’s also threaten crop diversity because the genes from the GMO’s can spread can spread to the other organic crops and this will therefore disrupt the whole ecosystem and completely change the field of agriculture if all the crops produced eventually become GMO. With this comes a few ethical issues concerning GMO’s, such as; many people don’t agree with it because they don’t know what is put into it and what harmful substances they might be putting into their body. Another ethical issue such as killing herbicides are controversial because some herbicides are useful and people think that by killing them, they are harming people and the environment in the long run.
Bacteria Produce Human Insulin
Bacteria produce human insulin is described as a biotechnological technique where scientists developed a technology called recombinant DNA which made it possible to insert a human gene into the genetic material of a common bacterium. This “recombinant” micro-organism could now produce the protein encoded by the human gene. This technique comes with a number of advantages such as; it can be engineered to suite all people because natural insulin is taken from the pancreas of a cow or a pig, however this type of insulin doesn’t suit all people and some might be allergic to it or have religious views about it, however, GM insulin can be genetically engineered to suit any person. This technique does not harm anyone and therefore t overcomes ethical concerns from people that think it is wrong to misuse cows and pigs for their insulin. This form of insulin is also available in greater quantities as compared to regular insulin and it is absorbed more rapidly than animal insulin and therefore it is more effective than regular insulin. However, there is one disadvantage to this form of insulin, and that is that the production costs to make this form of insulin tends to be very high and costly. The ethical issues that come with the production of bacteria produce human insulin are; people whose beliefs reject medical experiments, especially things such as receiving blood, organ transplants, vaccines and non-herbal medication. Most insulin today is derived from genetic alterations of a type of bacteria so that it produces insulin, some people showed allergic reactions to this and this has become an ethical issue. However, a good ethical issue is that regular insulin used to be an ethical issue because of religious beliefs for Muslims, Hindu’s etc. that have strict rules and beliefs against pork and pig related products. However, with GM Insulin, this is not the case.
What is genetic engineering?
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or manipulation, is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes using biotechnology. It is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved organisms. The main features and purpose of genetic engineering is that it is mostly used for medical reasons and experiments such as vaccines and foods. Not many people trust genetic engineered products and have various ethical views about it. It is used to try to help people and improve their lives rather than harm it and seems like a good long term investment to make.
Golden rice
Genetic modification is often used to make “healthier” foods, such as golden rice, which contains beta-carotene; the same vitamin that makes carrots orange. The result is that people without access to many vitamins will get a healthy dose of vitamin A when this rice is consumed. The advantages to golden rice include; helping prevent blindness because of the beta-carotene. It is herbicide resistant and it can prevent malnutrition because of its wide range of vitamins present within the rice. Because of the efficiency of this product, it needs very little maintenance and therefore saves money and resources and could improve our economy. And lastly, producing this rice does not harm the economy or environment in any way. However, there are a few disadvantages such as, there are concerns that it might crossbreed with other rice and contaminate it. This product might be over commercialised and not a fixed certain solution to a problem and lastly, the health benefits of this rice has not yet been fully substantiated. The ethical issues that arise with this example of genetic engineering is that many people believe that modifying food should not be allowed because it somehow causes harm to their bodies and studies show that there is not enough beta-carotene in the rice to actually help maintain a healthy diet and therefore is just a waste of money.
The banana vaccine
Bananas were developed through genetic modification that offer vaccine against diseases such as cholera and hepatitis. Just like with a needle vaccine, people who eat these bananas develop disease-combating antibodies that make them immune to a disease. The advantages of this vaccine is that it can help large populations such as India because it is efficient and easily accessible. It is also much cheaper than other vaccines as the production costs are much lower that the production costs of many other vaccine productions. The disadvantages include the fact that small dosages of the vaccine might be inadequate because a person cannot just eat one banana because there is usually an imbalance in the quantity of dosage in each banana. Ethical issues that arise with this type of genetic engineering are issues like that fact that not much tests and research has been made and done for this vaccine and therefore people don’t trust it enough to actually make use of it. People are sceptical about them putting these vaccines into actual food that people eat every day because people fear that people that do not need the vaccine such as small toddlers and babies would eat the bananas without knowing and this could cause health problems.
For the primary research section of this task, I drew up surveys that I sent to the grades 10-12 at OWLAG as well as some adults on campus as well as off campus so that I could get a wider variety of answers of different levels of thinking. In these surveys I put information on both biotechnology and genetic engineering as well as an example of each and then I asked the person about their opinions on the different techniques regarding advantages, disadvantages, ethical issues, familiarity etc. I formulated the surveys using Google Forms and I sent it out to the target market by means of email. I drew up the surveys at the beginning of the August month and I sent them out around that time as well, and as a result, I obtained 15 responses from a range of different people at OWLAG and outside OWLAG.
For my secondary research, I made use of the internet as well as various Life Sciences textbooks that was provided to us by the school. I did research to answer some questions based on biotechnology and genetic engineering such as what it was, advantages and disadvantages, ethical issues, main features of it etc. and I obtained this research in early May of this year.
Discussion, Evaluation and Comparison of Sources and Results:
My primary research consists of surveys that I sent out to various people in grades 10-12 and various adults on and off campus. The aim of this research was to get people and the public’s opinions and thoughts on biotechnology and genetic engineering. These results will be compared to the secondary research i did on each method and in turn by analysing, interpreting and comparing the two types of research against one another I will be able to conclude on whether or not genetic engineering can be regarded as biotechnology. I obtained a total of 15 responses from the various people.
In the survey I gave the audience a definition of both biotechnology and genetic engineering with an example of each (bacteria produce human insulin- biotechnology) and (the banana vaccine- genetic engineering) and descriptions of each example. I then asked them a series of questions on each technique as well as example to get their opinion on each. Question 1 was whether or not they had a slight idea of what biotechnology and genetic engineering was before they read the provided definitions of each. For biotechnology and for genetic engineering 46,7% answered “no” and 53,3% answered “yes”, this showing that a good percentage of the people that responded already had a slight idea of what biotechnology and genetic engineering was. For question 2 I asked if they could name any 2 example of biotechnology and genetic engineering that they could think of. As a result for biotechnology, about 5 of the people that responded said they did not know or were unaware of any example whereas other gave examples such as GMO products, cloning, medication, alcohol, laundry detergents, and industrial and agricultural biotechnology. This corresponds with the secondary research I did because some examples of biotechnology that I researched were alcohol, different farming and production methods as well as medication as shown in my example of biotechnology (bacteria produce human insulin). For genetic engineering, I got responses such as modified vaccines, modern gene therapy, stem cell modification and GMO products as well as cloning whereas only about 3 people said they did not know any examples. This also corresponds with my secondary research because of my example of the banana vaccine that I did research on. Most people said they have seen a product of biotechnology, but many has however not seen a product of genetic engineering. When I asked the surveyors whether biotechnology and genetic modification was a good or bad thing and where or not it could change the world in a positive or negative manner, majority of the responses said that they thought it was a good thing and that it could positively impact the world.
I then asked if the surveyors could name 2 advantages and disadvantages of both biotechnology and genetic engineering. I did this to get a result on what they thought about these techniques and wthere their advantages and disadvantages corresponded with the results I researched in my secondary research (phase 1). This will consequently help me determine and answer the ultimate research question of whether genetic engineering can be regarded as biotechnology. For biotechnology I got advantages such as it can ultimately help better people’s lives and living conditions and I got similar advantages for genetic engineering, such as it could help cure diseases and help makes people’s lives better and it could make immense change in our environment and society as a whole. For both biotechnology and genetic engineering, the common disadvantages for both techniques were that they might be too expensive to implement or it could cause further issues and suffering in our environment if it doesn’t not work out or done incorrectly. This information is relevant and useful because it corresponds with the advantages and disadvantages of each technique that I obtained while doing my secondary research in phase 1. This show that a great percentage of people do indeed think that biotechnology and genetic engineering can be regarded as the same thing because of their similar advantages and disadvantages of each technique.
I also asked the surveyors to give some ethical issues that might arises due to biotechnology and genetic engineering and the responses for both techniques where quite similar and corresponded quite a bit to the ethical issues I researched during my secondary research. The common ethical issue that I got from the surveyors was the issues off various religious views and beliefs that could cause issues in the research process, some people also said that the process might cause more harm than good to people and the environment if it is not adequately researched upon and carried out correctly and lastly the last issue is that some people are not comfortable with the modification of their food and see this as a violation. Thereafter I asked the surveyors whether or not each of these techniques should be allowed in the world and our society and majority of them said yes to both methods. I then went in and asked the last questions of whether or not genetic engineering can be classified as biotechnology and 100% of the responses said yes.
Both of the primary and the secondary research leans towards the bias that genetic engineering can be regarded as bio technology and that it can be good and have a positive impact on the world and society. The primary sources all present a bias perspective because firstly the surveys were drawn out in a way that was best to get the most suitable responses for the view/ side that I was trying to argue when it comes to the research question. The surveys can also be a bit bias because it comes from one person’s perspective and this creates a bias view towards the data and the response to the information given. Consequently this, has influenced the conclusion and the answer to the research question and therefore along with supporting evidence as well as the primary and secondary research that I obtained, I think it is safe to conclude that genetic modification can be regarded as biotechnology because biotechnology is described as the manipulation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones, etc. And genetic engineering is described as the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes using biotechnology. Therefore these two go hand-in-hand and genetic engineering is seen as an example or a type of biotechnology. Genetic engineering makes use of biotechnology to carry out the processes and experiments. The examples of both biotechnology and genetic engineering as well as the ethical issues, advantages and disadvantages are similar if not exactly the same because it evidently has the same effects, purpose and effects, which is to try and improve life and living conditions and create advancements in the world. Both the primary research (surveys) and the secondary research (internet, textbook research), lean towards the conclusion that genetic engineering can be regarded as biotechnology because genetic technology is used within biotechnology and is often referred to as “modern biotechnology” because it is considered as a type of biotechnology . Therefore, yes, genetic engineering can be regarded as biotechnology based on my personal opinions, thoughts, views and well as evidence from various primary and secondary sources.

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