Frankenstein and Genetic Modification

Essay by dgartsHigh School, 11th gradeA-, December 2008

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To be like Frankenstein is to be someone who creates life or tempers with it. When Frankenstein created his monster, he created something more than just another face on the earth: He opened doors to new opportunities, new discoveries, and a whole new outlook on life. In the current technological era, humans are the same. Humans have done many things that show how they can play around with life, alter foods, organisms, living creatures, and even other humans. Homo sapiens have shown themselves further to be like Frankensteins, when the transplantation of one body part from one being into another was successful. Unfortunately, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ends in total destruction. The one question that remains is if the same will become of humans.

The way humans manipulate life is very great, and how many times they have done so is much more than one can count on his fingers. Essentially, the manipulation of life happens through DNA, or rather the things that are done with DNA. Cloning, being one very controversial topic, shows one how far humans have come with technology. Simply put, cloning is taking one organism's cell, taking out its nucleus (which contains the DNA), putting it into another cell where there is no nucleus, and waiting for it to grow. Unfortunately, cloned organisms have a much higher chance of suffering from sicknesses, obesity and deformities. On top of all that, there is an extremely large problem with cloning: when an organism that is 6 years old is cloned, its clone begins its life with 6 years "on its clock". This means that it will live as if it has already lived 6 years, and it will die younger than a normal organism of that type. Dolly, who was the first organism ever cloned successfully, died when she was 6 years old (a regular sheep lives 12-15 years), after developing arthritis (Williams 15-18). Thus, as science itself has proven, cloning is very technologically advanced, but is very dangerous for the "guinea pig", as it is much more vulnerable.

On the other hand, if humans can modify life, they should be able to modify food. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are food products that have been genetically engineered to better themselves on their weak qualities. Such an example is the "Flavr Savr" tomato, which was made to stay fresh longer (Picard 88-94). Certainly this helped the world a lot, since food stores and farms would not make as much food go to waste. Unfortunately, this process is very risky; it takes the removing and adding of strands of DNA. When playing with nature, diseases could arise and new bacteria can be formed, all coming from a single small miscalculation. Furthermore, people feel that it is unnatural to eat foods that have been genetically modified, causing debates to arise.

Frankenstein's monster, being created from body parts from different people, was just a huge successful transplant. Nowadays, one can get organs for transplants from other people and even animals (known as xenotransplantation). Usually coming from pigs or baboons, these organs are transplanted into humans in the hope that the body will accept the organ. One cannot say that it is a safe process, since a xenotransplantation has never been successful. Likewise, it is very dangerous because there is a chance of diseases moving from animals to humans. Such has happened in 1993, when a patient received a transplant with a baboon's liver. The patient died in 22 days due to the patient's immune system, which succumbed to infection after 26 days (Peterson 62-68).

Overall, it seems that humans are becoming Frankensteins, since they are cloning animals, creating GMOs, and transplanting organs between animals and humans. All modifications of life through science are very dangerous, stretching from creating new bacteria or diseases all the way to the dangers that put the "guinea pig" at risk. Obviously, one is able to dictate that all means of manipulating life are dangerous. It is very ironic that Mary Shelley wrote this book, showing humans what would happen if the manipulation of life occurred, yet people's wanting to grasp technology is so great that their vision is clouded with thoughts of superiority.

Works Cited ListNewspaper ArticlesWeise, Elizabeth. "FDA: Cloned Animals' Meat is Safe." USA Today 18 Dec. 2005. 30 Dec. 2006 .

Williams, Chris. "US to Approve Cloned Meat." The Register 28 Dec. 2006. 30 Dec. 2006 .

Peterson, Drew. "The History of Xenotransplantation." BBC Online. 19 Aug. 1999. 30 Dec. 2006 .

Picard, Ken. "Growing Concerns: Unearthing the Dirt Behind the Rise of GMOs." Seven Days. 25 Feb, 2003. 30 Dec. 2006 .

Gilbert, Jenny. "Birth, Life, Death - It's All in the Balance Here." Independent UK 29 Jan. 2006. 30 Dec. 2006 .