Why is biotechnology often controversial?

Biotechnology is a constantly evolving field of science. While it has many benefits, such as reducing our environmental footprint and helping to treat diseases and ailments, it is not without drawbacks. The four main concerns revolve around ethical, security, bioterrorism and environmental issues. While gene modification technology can be very useful, this technology is controversial.

GM crops have been banned in many countries because of concerns about their potential health or environmental risks. Biotechnology-related controversies arise mainly because it encompasses genetic information, which can be harmful to organisms in many ways. A lack of knowledge and understanding is one of the main reasons why many people are opposed to biotechnology. If you think about medical biotechnology, the use of technology and biology can help find treatments for diseases that kill millions of people every year.

Traditional biotechnological techniques, such as selective reproduction, hybridization and fermentation, have been modifying living plants to improve performance or nutritional value since time immemorial. Agricultural biotechnology can be used to create genetically modified crops to combat hunger and malnutrition. Some applications of biotechnology include the development of food, biochemicals, beverages and pharmaceutical products, as well as services such as the use of genetically altered organisms for water purification, waste management and sustainable resource acquisition. Given these limitations, it is necessary for the scientific community to expand global biosafety standards to minimize the risks of laboratories conducting research related to biotechnology.

In general, greater international cooperation is needed to help mitigate the threats of emerging advances in biotechnology without restricting technological progress. The development of the biotechnology necessary to design negligible senescence means that the indefinite extension of life is good for humanity. Biotechnology has facilitated scientists' access to several things that have become a cause for concern. Beyond that, biotechnology can help produce healthier, faster-growing animals and improve the quality and quantity of milk, eggs and meat for human consumption.

However, supporters of biotechnology argue that people have been producing genetically modified organisms that have changed the environment for thousands of years. Dedicating time to this reflection can go against the pace of biotechnological advances and arrogance in the face of human wisdom. The capacity of biotechnology to create and change human lives requires careful reflection on what it means to be human and the place occupied by the human person. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the promising role that biotechnology can play in this way.

Tammi Ludlum
Tammi Ludlum

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