07heaann to Alex, Amy, Andy, Georgia, Ollie on 21 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by lucystillwinning.
Ollie Russell answered on 16 Jun 2011:
I think that genetic engineering can be really beneficial for mankind. If we can change plants so they grow in areas were there is little rainfall then we could help people in Africa grow more food. An american company has change the Rice plant so that it makes vitamin a. If you dont have enough of this vitamin then it can cause blindness, so by eating the rice, you get all your vitamin A.
You do need to be careful as changing some genes can cause the plants to outcompete other plants so the gentically engineered ones may grow everywhere. Some companies also make it so the plants cant make seeds, so you have to buy the seeds every year to keep growing the crop.
Amy Reeve answered on 16 Jun 2011:
I agree with Ollie. There can be great benefits with genetic engineering particularly with regards to crops for developing countries. but you need to make sure that what you are changing isn’t also going to have a detrimental effect. 🙂 good question!
Alex Munro answered on 16 Jun 2011:
If you look at the work of Norman Borlaug, I think there’s a strong case to be made for GM foods: he developed higher yielding wheat with shorter stalks, more heads of grain per stalk, and with a higher resistance to disease… for his work he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal…
Yes, there are risks involved in GM, and these should be managed so as their impact is minimal; but I don’t believe would should dismiss the idea of GM without giving it some serious thought…
Andy MacLeod answered on 21 Jun 2011:
I think it can have beneficial effects, as my esteemed colleagues have already outlined. Definitely research worth pursuing.
But we should be cautious. Introducing new genes into a species may have unintended consequences on that species and its environment.
Georgia Campbell answered on 21 Jun 2011:
I guess it depends what you mean by genetic engineering!
The stuff that the other scientists have mentioned – like producing plants that grow in areas where they currently struggle to grow enough food, or plants that are more disease resistant – are a really good thing, as long as plenty of research is done first on the long-term effects of these products on people and the environment.
Some people think of genetic engineering as things like modifying humans to become more intelligent,or screening embryos in IVF so that you can pick whether to have a boy or a girl, or make sure your baby has a certain colour of hair or eyes. This is something that obviously isn’t allowed by law (and probably isn’t possible just yet anyway), and I don’t think it should be allowed. It’s this kind of idea that I think people are nervous about when it comes to geneticists though, and I wish we could get more people to realise that most of us think this is wrong too!
It’s intresting to think that a lot of our crops and farm animals have been produced by genetic engineering in a way – the breeding of animals and the development of plants to have qualities that we want them to have for food is a sort of forced and controlled version of natural selection. It’s sometimes considered that this is the first exampleif genetic engineering! What do you think?