Week 6:Biotech_ How far is too far? by Carmin Pelayo

Many believe that one of the most important reasons in our existence is our evolution and advancement; however, many argue that it is not only our person that simply through nature needs to be advanced, but the things we use in day to day life, our technology and resources have been chained to this race for the “best lifestyle”.  An undeniable factor in this is the explosion of biotechnology.  In the beginning farmers simply used this idea as a way to create a crop that would be more likely to yield their fruit in large numbers.  Now it has evolved to trying to remake everything, trying to “better” a large aspect of our day to day life.  But how do you know when to accept the fact that maybe we’re taking it too far.  Many people need to step back and really look at where things are taking us.  Awhile ago I saw an episode of 20/20 that dealt with this artist who created these dolls called Reborns. 

 These dolls were so impeccably made that many thought they were real babies;  the artist Deborah King says that one of the reason she makes these dolls is to allow women to have always young and cute babies.  These dolls (which by the way cost anywhere from at least $1400) are more than likely a result of this new baby craze that seems to be sweeping the nation, with reborn you can CUTSOM DESIGN your child, what color hair, eyes, etc many people think it’s great, after all they’re just dolls.  Reborns

Yet, thanks to new development researchers say that “By the end of this year, researchers will complete one of the great scientific achievements of all time: a map of every gene that forms the human body” 1.  As if the weird people who obsess over their custom made dolls weren’t enough, it’s only a matter of time before you can do the same thing with your future child.  Granted, this is an excellent discovery, upon the creation of this “human gene map” diseases that are almost completely genetic can be pinpointed in anyone, and when done so in an unborn child, they can be repaired at the molecular level as though they never existed.  However, where will our nation draw the line?  This scenario seems all too familiar, just like the debates that occurred when stem cell research was being put on blast.  The argument with that is should we allow left over embryos in fertility clinics to be used? Many don’t think people will allow scientist to use these embryos to take the stem cells out of them, but many also can’t conceive the idea of not trying to make a new liver or insulin creating cells for diabetics.  All parents want the best for their children, the best schools, the best clothes, the best environment, etc; so will parents really want to deny a child their possible genetic best?  Many people say that luckily this revolution is still a ways away, that there is plenty of time to create regulations and limits for this type of research…  However, the question is that as liberty loving, autonomous people, will we want to?

 

 

Yet, the advancement of our own self isn’t the only thing breaking headlines now.  With the skyrocketing prices of oil, there is a new market on the rise; that of biofuels.  Biofuel is fuel produced from renewable resources, especially plant biomass, vegetable oils, and treated municipal and industrial wastes. Biofuels are considered neutral with respect to the emission of carbon dioxide because the carbon dioxide given off by burning them is balanced by the carbon dioxide absorbed by plants that are grown to produce them.  Many think it’s a great innovation of biotechnology. 

 

However what many don’t realize is the greater damage that its creating for us and our environment.  The way that the fuel itself burns is not the problem,  the way that its produced is what has greatly shaken many environmentalists.  In order to create this, large amounts of soy and/or corn need to be planted.  With demand for this biofuel on the rise, greater amounts of land are being cleared out daily for its cultivation, a great part of it being in rainforests such as the Amazon.  The process of clearing land for farming actually releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than would be saved by the fuel that the land produces, and the crops that will be planted there absorb less CO2 then the rainforest it replaced2.  Even in America, thanks to mass production of these crops greater amounts of fertilizers are going into rivers, such as the Mississippi, which upon entering the ocean, create dead zones, oxygen depleted areas of water resulting in the death of marine life. 

 The price of grain has almost doubled and more is being planted for fuel then is for our own consumption.  Food shortages are beginning to emerge, yet thanks to the appeal of this cheaper cleaner burning fuel, many are overlooking it.  In Europe alone, regulations have been set up so that by the end of the year 5% of diesel must be biofuel and by the end of 2012 it will go up to 20%.  fill your car, starve the world?

                We, as not only Americans but as humans inhabiting this earth need to take a step back and really analyze what is going on with all these advancements.  Are we really improving our future or are we laying out the blueprints for our own demise?

 

by Carmin Pelayo

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