Why does genetic engineering raise so much controversy? Justify your opinion.

Genetic engineering is the science of changing the genetic structure of an animal, plant or human being in order to affect the way it develops. It enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.

The aim is to introduce new features to an organism in order to build up its usefulness, such as enlarging the yield of a crop species, developing a novel characteristic, or producing a new protein or enzyme.

Genetic engineering was meant to be a solution to the problem of famine as much of its potential concerns agriculture and industry. It helps plants and animals grow easier and faster. We can already buy genetically modified food in shops, such as fruit, vegetables or poultry.

Proponents of genetic engineering argue that the technology is safe, and that it is necessary in order to maintain food production that will continue to match population growth and help feed millions in the third world more effectively. Others argue that there is more than enough food in the world and that the problem is food distribution, not production, so people should not be forced to eat food that may carry some degree of risk. They oppose to genetic engineering on the grounds that genetic modifications might have unforeseen consequences, both in the initially modified organisms and their environments. Gene­tically modified organisms can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating natural environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way. Their release is ‘genetic pollution’ and is a major threat because genetically modified organisms cannot be recalled once released into the environment.

Genetic engineering has also enormous opportunities for use in the field of medicine. Gene therapy can be applied to patients suffering from haemophilia, cancer and diabetes. Moreover it can be used to produce hormones, vaccines and enzymes. It is the science which can give us insight into the origins of cancer and information about how and why we age. It could also lead to huge advances in organ replacement.

The positive aspects of genetic engineering should not make us forget about its most controversial branch – cloning. Artificial human cloning is a subject of great discussion regarding its ethical and practical consequences. It is believed that human reproductive cloning is unethical but a number of groups are working on or have already produced human embryo clones. Such ideas are terrifying to many people because they seem to demean humans and at the same time to give them enormous power they are not ready for.

The issue of genetic engineering raises a hundred questions to which there are few clear answers. Although it can be used to improve human life, the question remains whether it will be used in a good cause or for a morally wrong purpose.


Przykładowe pytanie, jakie może zadać egzaminator.

What are the negative aspects of technology?

Although technology helps us in many ways and makes our lives easier, safer and more comfortable, it has of course some disadvantages. First of all, it helps produce dangerous weapons and chemicals which may threaten our planet. Another problem connected with technology and the development of industry is pollution and waste disposal. The atmosphere is polluted by exhaust gases emitted by factories especially in large industrial areas whereas soil is contaminated by acid rain and also the misuse of fertilizers and pesticides. Besides, technology makes people adopt an unhealthy way of life. We become lazy as we spend more and more time in a car or at home in front of the TV set or the computer.