There is a wide variety of such products and that includes salmon which grow twice as fast as the regular salmon, but nobody is thinking of the consequences when these fish will escape from the farms where they are being cultivated. Some types of plants like poplar, eucalyptus and pine are being modified so that their rate of growth increases and are able to stop reacting from high doses of herbicides. This will help the plants from being converted more easily for paper pulp. There are many efforts to develop bananas that may be useful for giving vaccines to individuals, and many other such experiments are still going on. This sort of results are leading companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow to start finding new methods of reaching the components of vaccines, antibodies for human diseases and different types of proteins to be used in industry through tobacco, corn and potato plants. (Biohazards: The Next Generation?)
Another company based in Texas called ProdiGene is collaborating with Stauffer seeds. They are trying to develop genetically engineered plants that will have eleven different proteins in them for extraction and commercial use. This type of activities is leading to a situation where general human beings are increasingly worried by the high level of activity in biology. The results of this research are unknown and the by-products may be dangerous for humans. Plants are being stimulated for production of blood coagulants, proteases and protease inhibitors, neurologically active proteins, growth promoters and enzymes. These are able to change the structure and ways of operation of important biologically active compounds. There are also attempts for production of monoclonal and viral surface proteins that are used for vaccination. When these types of products are released in large scale some people may react with allergic or autoimmune reactions.
Even the developments are not immediately announced by the researchers, and there have been reports that glucuronidase was produced by Stauffer in 2000, while they have been supplying for a number of years. This is an enzyme which helps in dissolving normally irritant molecules through a biochemical reaction. The facility of solution helps in the process of detoxification and removal of different compounds which are quite different in nature like hormones, antibiotics and opiates. Due to the availability of this enzyme, the regular toxins can move out from the molecule that binds them together, and this action stops them from being removed properly from the body. Thus while small quantities of these compounds may be useful for certain conditions of human beings, their presence in large quantities in the open atmosphere may result only in unknown effects on the average human. (Biohazards: The Next Generation?)
Another problem comes from the process of patenting that these materials go through, and though the products are produced by nature, yet they can be patented. This had led to an objection as early as May 18, 1995 from 200 religious leaders from 80 faiths. This was in Washington and they wanted the patenting of genes and genetically engineered creatures to be stopped. They said that as a group of leaders they were opposed to the patenting of human and animal life forms. They were also not sure of the results from the decision of the U.S. patent office to start the patenting of body parts and genetically modified animals. Their belief was like the most of us - humans and animals have been created by God and if that is so, then they cannot be patented. The other side to this argument is put up by the biotech industry and they feel that the changes in patent law have not been properly understood. The advantages of patents was felt by the industry to encourage the creation of increase in knowledge, and according to them, there is no religious significance in patenting. (Patented Genes: An Ethical Appraisal)
This argument has been going on for a long time and one of the major instances was when Luther Burbank tried to control the commercial rights of the new plants that they had developed. The question is whether the patents are only an instrument for giving the developer the chance to earn the rewards from labor and investment, and then one can agree to the issue of patents to the breeders. This is not the situation with the PTO and the courts and they feel that there can be no patents issued when a developer merely repacks the items he found in the original material. The ruling by the Supreme Court said about a hybridized bacterium that it "may have been the product of skill, it certainly was not the product of invention." (Patented Genes: An Ethical Appraisal) This problem occurs as the breeders could provide samples of the hybrid to the patent office, but could not describe the methods through which others could make the same material from other simpler material. (Patented Genes: An Ethical Appraisal)
Thus the patent office and other organizations do not recognize the activities of genetic engineering as patentable, and this removes the aura of scientific development from them. There may be many other processes through which the same product can be made. Thus one can say that genetic engineering is only a meddling with nature and it may have possibly dangerous consequences.
Epstein, Ron. Ethical Dangers of Genetic Engineering. Synthesis/Regeneration 20. Fall, 1999. Retrieved at http://www.greens.org/s-r/20/20-01.html. Accessed on 25 May, 2005
Fong, Mira. Genetic Trespassing and Environmental Ethics. Retrieved at http://online.sfsu.edu/%7Erone/GEessays/GENETIC%20TRESPASSING.htm. Accessed on 25 May, 2005
Nowak, Rachel. Killer Virus: An engineered mouse virus leaves us one step away from the ultimate bioweapon. New Scientist Online News. 10 January, 2001. Retrieved at http://online.sfsu.edu/%7Erone/GEessays/engineeredmousevirus.htm. Accessed on 25 May, 2005
Opponent View of Genetic Engineering. Retrieved at http://library.thinkquest.org/04apr/00774/en/txt/controversy_con.html. Accessed on 25 May, 2005
Patented Genes: An Ethical Appraisal. Issues in Science and Technology Online: Perspectives. Spring, 1998. Retrieved at http://online.sfsu.edu/%7Erone/GEessays/PatentedGeneEthics.htm. Accessed on 25 May, 2005
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Young, Emma. GM pigs are both meat and Veg. New Scientist. 25 January 2002. Retrieved at http://online.sfsu.edu/%7Erone/GEessays/GMpigsveggenes.html. Accessed on 25 May, 2005