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Science is a series of tests and experiments based on the scientific method, it is all about facts and the study of life. Whereas, technology is more of a physical object that is created with scientific knowledge. There are certainly similarities, but science is the mind behind the technology. Without science, technology would not exist. With science, there are experiments and volunteers for testing, this is the research we need to find cures for diseases and create the new technology to advance that research.
The biotechnology I chose is cloning, specifically reproductive cloning. “Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal” (Future For All, 2019). There was a sheep named Dolly that was successfully cloned by using this technology in 1997. There was a few reasoning as to why they wanted to clone animals, but mainly they wanted more livestock, so they started by cloning animals that are used for food and/or other resources. Cloning is done by removing the nucleus which carries DNA from the egg of an adult female (Trefil, Hazen, 2015). Then, a cell from another adult sheep is fused with the egg with an electric shock. That cell then began to divide and then when the time was right, the embryo was implanted into the uterus of another sheep, impregnating that sheep with the cloned DNA of the two sheep (Trefil, Hazen, 2015). Now, if they tried this on a human, there is a high chance of problems and malfunctions. There is not enough research to make it safe to clone a human, it is said to be very dangerous at this time.
Scientists have tried cloning many things before sheep and monkeys could be cloned correctly, like the sea urchin in 1885. With that experiment, they discovered that each cell in the early embryo had its own set of genetic instructions that could grow into a full organism (Learn Genetics, 2019). In 1902, a salamander was cloned but not as successfully as the sea urchin. they tried again with the salamander in 1928, attempting almost the same experiment. This was a success, and they discovered that nucleus from an early embryonic cell can grow into an adult salamander, which is a perfect substitute for the nucleus in a fertilized egg. The first successful nuclear transfer was in 1952, and they cloned a frog. From amphibians to mammals, they started to clone more and more animals.
When cloning in a lab, scientists use Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer or (SCNT). It is what makes an exact genetic copy of an individual. SCNT only started getting used around the 1950s, “Nuclear transfer of this type only became technically feasible in amphibians around 1950 and in mammals some 30 years later” (Wilmut, Bai, Taylor, 2015). Before SCNT, they could not manage to successfully clone anything, even the sea urchin. The first cloning experiment was of a scientist in 1885, named Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch, who thought that it was possible to separate the two-celled sea urchin embryos by literally shaking them. They did indeed separate, then they both grew into sea urchins!
With more complicated animals, like the salamander in 1902, it got a bit harder than just shaking the cells. Hans Spemann was the scientist who was trying to figure out how to clone a salamander, but the embryo was a lot stickier than the sea urchins. He used a tiny noose made from baby hair and tightened it between the two cells and slowly pulled apart, creating two different cells. Each of those cells, then, developed into salamanders. Trying to do that with more advanced cells, did not work. So, using simplicity by shaking cells apart and pulling them apart with baby hair, were the two main technologies they used before SCNT started getting used in 1928.
Some positive things about biotechnological advances would be the intensity and depth of the research we can get with more advance technology. As we advance, we take the things that we have known that have worked in the past, and we change them and update them by using our new scientific knowledge. We can learn about the type of rock that is in the core of the earth with today’s advanced technology, or we could go inside a preserved human from 5,000 years ago and find out exactly what organs they had and what condition they were in. Biotechnological advances help us learn more information faster and easier. With the intensity and depth of biotechnology, we can create vaccines and antibiotics in medicine, and in agriculture there are genetic modification of crops, which has good and bad effects. They now have new-generation GM (genetically modified) crops and those are being developed into medicines and industrial products such as monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, plastics and biofuels (Key, Ma, Drake, 2008). Without these advances, we would not have the cures or medicine to most illnesses.
Some negative things about biotechnological advances would be things like genetically modified plants and animals. When adding GMOs or GMs to our plants, we are diminishing the health of the humans or animals who consume these plants, and to the environment around the plants. Genetic engineering speeds up the growth rate of the plant and can even make it bigger in size. All GM plants do undergo safety testing and have been used for over 15 years and have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people from around the world. These crops may be allergenic and have potential toxicity of protein (which does get tested in the safety tests). Another negative effect of biotechnology is their impact on production and the global market. With GM crops, everything grows bigger and faster, and sometimes ends up in overproduction. It ends up wasting the crops and costing a lot of money in the long run because they are not selling the crops fast enough.
I honestly think that genetically modifying our crops is not going to benefit us in the long run. We have so many farms that grow organic food and have cage free, grass fed animals. And genetically modified crops are not the only things we have to worry about, there are genetically modified organisms too, like mosquitoes. When people use genetic modification, they may be trying to do good, but there are always negative side effects to everything. Scientists wanted to genetically modify mosquitoes in hopes to get rid of some species of mosquitoes, but are not considering that by injecting these insects, that these insects are going to obey and only spread the modifications to other mosquitoes and not to humans. They are their own organisms, and if they bit a human, that human would then pass it on, and it would cause an epidemic. I think that without anything getting genetically modified, we could and will find other ways to take care of problems, that have less side effects.
Future of All. (2019). Cloning. Retrieved from https://www.futureforall.org/bioengineering/cloning.htm
Wilmut, I., Bai, Y., & Taylor, J. (2015). Somatic cell nuclear transfer: origins, the present position and future opportunities. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1680), 20140366. doi:10.1098/rstb.2014.0366
Key, S., Ma, J. K., & Drake, P. M. (2008). Genetically modified plants and human health. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101(6), 290–298. doi:10.1258/jrsm.2008.070372
Sciencing. Suico, Joshua. (2018) The Disadvantages of Biotechnology. Retrieved from https://sciencing.com/disadvantages-biotechnology-8590679.html
Resnik, D. B. (2018). Ethics of community engagement in field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes. Developing World Bioethics, 18(2), 135–143. https://doi.org/10.1111/dewb.12147
Learn Genetics. Genetic Science Learning Center. (n.d). The History of Cloning. Retrieved at https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cloning/clonezone/