Advances in Molecular Biology and Their Impact on Society Ever since Watson and Crick made a model of the structure of the DNA, major advances in the field of genetics and microbiology in general have developed. These advancements helped scientists and researchers in improving the lives of the general public, from increasing food production to finding new ways to treat deadly diseases. However, with controversial advancements that include cloning, human gene therapy and embryonic stem cells also came strong opposition from those questioning the lack of ethical standards in such technologies. The progress in this field of science provides society with answers to numerous problems and issues in everyday life, but strong communication between scientists and the public needs to be established to ensure that the new technologies are appreciated and accepted for their benefits to humankind, and to assure the public that science is considerate of ethical values as well.
Over the years, there have been numerous advances in the field of genetics and molecular biology, essential in discovering new ways of dealing with medical problems and understanding the human biological makeup. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), for instance, believes that the genome project to map the DNA sequence for the human genome provides an important biological resource that can be used for many years for advanced scientific research and for practical applications. Progress in genetics has greatly helped medical professionals and researchers in developing ways of treating and preventing various diseases such as sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, diabetes and cystic fibrosis (National Health Museum).
Developments in biotechnology research have also given new hope to people with fertility problems, and some now have the option to take advantage of modifying the genetic composition of babies before they are even born to prevent obesity and unwanted diseases, or to determine the sex of their offspring. It has also played a role in criminal investigations by helping identify wanted criminals, and in agriculture by improving crop yields and enhancing the quality of agricultural products. The U.S. DOE is also engaging in genomics to explore the capabilities of microbes in addressing environmental issues such as energy security, global climate change and toxic waste cleanup.
With the obvious benefits from biotechnology are issues surrounding ethical decisions, the danger of genetic tests and environmental issues with regards to genetically modified foods and microbes. One such outstanding issue involves cloning. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, for instance, believes that the use of cloning to resolve problems of infertility does not meet ethical standards. There are also issues related to the safety of the products developed from biotechnology research. The National Health Museum believes that biotechnology plays an important role in solving world food shortages, improving medicine, agriculture and veterinary sciences, and in tackling the challenges in environmental management. The group does not believe, however, that strict regulation should be relaxed.
Overall, the advancements in biotechnology have been very beneficial to society. With it, there is hope to address problems such as famine and nutritional deficiency in developing countries, elimination of deadly diseases, and generally aiding people in their everyday lives. Naturally, there are sectors of society that will continue to oppose to some of the technologies and scientific tests resulting from advances in molecular biology, but an effective dialogue between the scientists and the public would help the two to realize an agreement as to the overall improvement of society.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Human Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (Cloning). Fertility and Sterility 74. 5 (2000): 873-876. 11 Dec. 2005 .
National Health Museum. Biotechnology’s Impact on Society. 1990. 11 Dec. 2005 .
United States. Department of Energy Genome Programs. Genomics and its Impact on Science and Society. 11 Dec. 2005 .