Genetic engineering is the scientific manipulation of genes in order to modify the offspring of an organism. Genetic engineering may work with plants, humans or other animals. Scientists can genetically engineer corn, for example, to make it less susceptible to pests or, theoretically, scientists could modify an individual's genes in order to make sure his child has blue eyes. The various forms of genetic engineering have led many to argue that the manipulation of genes is disadvantageous to humans and the environment.
One major argument against the genetic engineering of plants is that genetic engineering makes plants more susceptible to disease. Although the objective of many engineers is to make crops more resistant to disease, the act of modifying the DNA of a certain crop makes all of the crop have a uniform DNA sequence. So, instead of having diversity, in which a disease may effect different plants to varying degrees, plants could be wiped out by a single disease because they have no genetic diversity.
It took scientists 277 tries to clone a sheep. In the process, only 29 embryos were successfully created and only one clone actually lived to adulthood. This clone was Dolly, which became a champion for cloning and genetic modification. However, many animal rights activists point to the fact that all of the failed attempts to create cloned animals resulted in deformed and disfigured animals that were born into suffering. Genetic modification will have its flaws and development stages, and this will invariably yield many sad and failed experiments, in which animals must suffer at the hands of human scientists.
Ever since 1997 in which Dolly was created, scientists have debated the prospect of cloning and modifying human embryos, which led to a lot of backlash from opponents of genetic engineering. Some argue that the psychological ramifications for a cloned child would be very detrimental. In addition, the process of perfecting genetic modification could lead to many mishaps in which scientists could induce a lot of suffering on unborn children. Religious opponents argue that cloning is playing the role of God by deciding a person's predisposition and genetic make-up.
In addition to the negative effects of genetic modification on living organisms and plants, the process by which organisms are modified causes a lot of problems on a bureaucratic level. Commercial interests of the major corporations that engage in genetic modification of food causes many of these companies to withhold information about the ways in which crops are being modified. As a result, people are losing diversity in their foods, and, more importantly, they are losing the knowledge about what is in their foods. Green Peace, a non-profit environmental organisation, is waging a campaign to bring honesty and accountability to the genetically modified food industry.