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Tag: biotechnology

The Disabled in the Second Wave of Eugenics

    Eugenics, the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, has been both an admired and a highly controversial branch of science.  Birthed in the mid-nineteenth century by British scholar Francis Galton upon his discovery of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, this field of study has inspired scientific communities and governments throughout the world to seek advancement of the human population and eradication of social issues by selectively promoting reproduction among favored individuals and by inhibiting reproduction with unfavorable individuals. This cause for eugenics even compelled certain authorities to implement forced sterilization and, most strikingly, the utter genocide of Jews and other peoples by Nazi Germany. With such egregious events having occurred in the name of eugenics, the drastic decline in the popularity of this field is indeed feasible. Continue reading

The Benefits of Backward Biological Thinking

      Many people believe that the government and higher powers should not be able to influence the actions and liberties of biological beings; they believe it is immoral and cruel. However, even in our current society, many animals, humans included, have their liberties restricted and their actions and biological systems controlled. From genetically modified chickens to China’s one-child policy, there are and have been establishments controlling the biology and liberty of living beings. From a moral standpoint, many people are disturbed by these actions. However, limiting and modifying the biology and abilities of animals has undeniable benefits, such as reducing the human population, increasing food availability, and protecting endangered animals. By modifying biological systems through genetically modified organisms(GMOs), and establishing policies that limit population, there could be undeniable benefits for both society and the natural environment.

        Genetically modified organisms(GMOs) can provide food for those in need and can increase the well-being of the environment in doing so. Humanity has exceeded its carry capacity, resulting in famines and food-insecurities across the globe. Currently, nearly 800 million people across the globe are suffering from starvation (borgenproject.org). While food waste is largely to blame for this situation, a lack of available food across the globe is also a major cause of the crisis. Furthermore,  in an attempt to supply food to the growing population, many species are being over-hunted, particularly fish. Genetically modified organisms could allow for more efficient food production by increasing the size of the product and increasing its yield. For instance, genetically engineered salmon have recently been approved for consumption. Being far larger than traditional salmon, these fish not only provide more food for people, but they also decrease the draw and necessity of hunting natural salmon. In this way, a natural species is being preserved, and more food is made available to the public. Furthermore, an increasing number of crops are becoming genetically engineered, allowing for larger plants, pest resistance, and other desired traits. However, there is a serious controversy over the environmental ethics of GMOs, and there are concerns that GMOs will not be able to adapt to pest mutations. While these concerns are not unprecedented,  at their roots GMOs have serious potential to increase food production and have already proven the capability of outperforming natural crop varieties. Using genetic engineering, pesticides can be rendered unnecessary, which would greatly improve environmental health. Furthermore, due to the potential increased yield of GMOs, more land can be devoted to preserving natural habitats that would otherwise not exist if they were converted to farmland (nytimes.com). If more species and plant types were genetically modified, the potential food increase and preservation of species would be drastically increased.

        Enacting policies that would limit the number of children women can have would be highly beneficial for the environment and society. As a result of our ever-growing population, we are consuming more resources, namely fossil fuels, which cause climate change. Furthermore, the increasing human population is resulting in famines and food-insecurities across the globe.  If our population were to decrease, emissions and consumption would naturally decrease alongside, lessening environmental destruction. Many people argue that it is inhumane and ineffective to limit the number of children women can have. However, what is more important, the right to have more than one child, or the right for countless species to continue to survive on this planet, humans included? If people were only permitted to produce one child the environmental benefits would be incomparable. The single best way to decrease environmental degradation is decreasing the world’s population (ES118). If policies were enacted like the one-child policy in China,  there would be no death or pain involved in the reduction of the human population. Furthermore, if the population did decrease by this means, starvation and general consumption would decrease, causing existing humans to be able to use essential resources that they may otherwise not be able to have. Decreasing birth rates would cause no physical damage to anyone or anything; instead, it would result in vital environmental restoration and would improve the well-being of the human race.

        Biotechnology and biological control inevitably bring up the moral question: Is it okay to alter natural biology, and will its benefits outweigh the ramifications it could have on society? Controlling biology could drastically improve the well-being of our society and the world. However, research needs to be conducted on the dangers of specific technologies and policies that would control biology before they are implemented. With the pressing environmental crisis and climate change, humanity needs to come up with new solutions if it wishes to save the world from further environmental degradation. Biotechnology and policies regulating childbirth could solve this problem by increasing food production and decreasing the human population in a manner that avoids suffering.

Sources:

https://vittana.org/24-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-gmos

 

https://greengarageblog.org/13-main-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-gmos

 

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr051833

 

https://borgenproject.org/how-many-people-are-starving-around-the-world/

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/business/genetically-engineered-salmon-approved-for-consumption.html

 

ES 118 Lecture

 

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