Today the biotechnology industry is moving very quickly. It has turned out to be important, now more than ever, to monitor all of the new statistics which are influencing the biotechnology field directly or indirectly (Khan, 2020). In this essay, I will characterize the methods and ethics of biotechnology, focusing on in vitro fertilization, DNA profiling, and vaccines. I will explain the use, benefits and drawbacks during the process, and any psychological, cultural or social factors that could influence an individual’s decision to use either of them.
Modern-day biotechnology, with its high concentration on molecular biology and its concerns about expanding human wellbeing and life expectancies, is about the future. This biotech future presses in every day, sparking people’s minds. At the same time, it inspires us to be extra careful or even dread that mankind is acquiring an excessive amount of power or not enough choice over human development. The political environment, penetrated for what it’s worth by a “moral process” to the strategies of science, increases this public concern. We seem to have lost our ability for realistic discussion in the public field. The biotech business has progressively understood that administrative plans as well as disagreeable public and political discussion can either empower or oblige innovative work. Regardless, science is political.
There are many different methods in terms of biotechnology. “The three important techniques of biotechnology are: (1) Recombinant DNA Technology (Genetic Engineering) (2) Plant Tissue Culture and (3) Transgenic (Genetically Modified Organisms)”, according to an article shared by Srinibas Kumar (Kumar). The article serves as a very informative resource for anyone who is wanting to know the basic facts. I will not go into great detail about each of them, but I will say that they all are related to the biotechnology in one way or another.
I’ll begin with genetic engineering and its relation to in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complicated series of methods used to help with fertility. According to Mayo Clinic, here’s how the process works: During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts and the process can take longer (Mayo Clinic).
In April 2008, an essay was published in the Washington Post titled “Building Baby from the Genes Up.” In the essay, the author presented his case in support of the genetic engineering of embryos, arguing that tinkering with genes could eliminate disease or confer desirable features onto our future progeny. (Green, 2008). Two days later, Richard Hayes, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, rebutted, warning of a “neo-eugenic future” and “the danger of genetic misuse.” (Obasogie, 2008). These totally opposite opinions are being debated around the world. The debate rotates around the thing researchers are calling reprogenetics: the combined use of reproductive and genetic technologies to select, and someday even genetically modify, embryos before implantation—not for health reasons, but rather for “development.” In my opinion, both men have made some very reasonable arguments. However, I think that there a lot of unknowledgeable people who do not understand the full process of in vitro fertilization. With all the tampering within the IVF process, it should make you question the effect of IVF on DNA profiling.
Speaking of that question, let me elaborate on DNA profiling for a few moments. DNA profiling is the process where a particular DNA pattern, called a profile, is acquired from an individual or sample of tissue. Even though we are all unique, the vast majority of our DNA is really very much identical to others’ DNA. DNA profiling is mostly used in criminal investigations. Coroners, medical examiners, and others in the forensics industry use DNA profiling to compare criminal suspects’ profiles to DNA proof in order to figure out their involvement in the crime. Likewise, it is used in parentage testing, to help determine immigration qualification, and in genealogical and clinical research.
Remember that concern that I wrote about earlier…the one about the effect that in vitro fertilization had on DNA profiling? I recently read an article about this and found out that sperm damage can affect the IVF process. According to the article, “they found that sperm DNA damage predicts poor clinical pregnancy rates after IVF and/or ICSI.” (Bach & Schlegel, 2016). That is a drawback that is worth questioning. Perhaps someone somewhere will create a cure, or at least a vaccine, to eliminate DNA damage. In regard to DNA profiling, I don’t see anything complicated about it. It’s just fingerprinting. My perspective on this would probably be much different if I were to work in forensics.
I purposely prolonged to talk about this last topic. I hate needles. So, just thinking about the word “vaccine” sends a pinching sensation to my arm. But, as I implied, I will discuss it. Basically, a vaccine is to protect humans from infections and diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. They are also called immunizations. Why? Because they take advantage of our natural immune system’s ability to prevent infectious illness. Since the time their creation, vaccines have saved many lives everywhere! All things considered, individuals in various countries experience the ill effects of sicknesses and disease that could have been stopped by vaccination. Analysts have discovered that vaccination saved 37 million lives between 2000 and 2019! It is projected that it could save 32 million additional lives by 2030 (Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium, 2021). That would be awesome! I have been closely monitoring the news and talking to locals on their opinions about this global nightmare. Although many are afraid to get their vaccines, there are a plenty of others who did not hesitate to get it. At the time of this essay, there have been 2.86 billion people worldwide who have been fully vaccinated; 189 million are American. That’s a lot of people. Unfortunately, there are still many more who still unprotected. To a certain extent, I understand their concerns.