Presented with the available facts, I would have to say that hands down DNA research has lead to more good than harm. Yes, DNA research in the wrong hands has the possibility to cause misery like the world has never seen, but nothing like that has happened. People are having a harder time with how much we are polluting the planet than dealing with any negative effects of DNA research. People do not realize how much the results of DNA research has benefited their everyday lives. Humanity thinks we are on the verge of opening a door to a whole new world of possibilities, what people have not noticed is the door has been blown wide open. The benefits range from genetically modified organisms, genetic testing, being able to study diseases, and maybe what some people might call scientific miracles.
Maybe the misunderstanding of the impact of DNA research begins with the fact that people do not realize how long it has been in existence. The earliest example is selective breeding, which has been going on for centuries. The earliest practitioners of selective breeding obviously did not know anything about the specifics of DNA. What they did know was certain plants and animals had desirable traits, which are invariably controlled by the plant or animal's genetics, so they would try to breed plants and animals with these preferred traits. A great historical example would Mendel and his peas. Selective breeding has happened numerous times, but does have its draw backs because of things like inbreeding. Plenty of examples can be found among dogs. Dalmatians tend to be deaf and collies have a much higher risk of hip displasia. With DNA research people are able to create transgenec/ genetically modified organisms(GMOs) with out having to worry about any problems from inbreeding. Selective breeding is kind of like carpet bombing, sometimes you hit the target, but you hit a lot of innocent ones too. Where as todays GMOs are like guided missiles, you get exactly what you want.
A big problem is people have negative feelings towards GMOs without understanding the true impact GMOs create. Because of transgenic technology, plants and animals have been created that are resistant to pests and diseases that used to devastate farmers. As of 2004 85% of America's soybeans are GMOs and people go on living unchanged. GMOs have been created to help in the pharmaceutical industry. One example is the use of horses to create insulin, which impacts millions of diabetics. GMOs are so integrated in people's lives, they do not even know they are there.
Another avenue DNA research has opened up is genetic testing. What good does it do? To find the answer look to newborn screening. Some diseases if not caught in the first few days of life can lead to death or severe mental retardation. One condition they test for is phenlyketonuria, if its is not caught the amino acid phenylalanine accumulates into phenylkeltones and leads to mental retardation. Another disease that can be caught by genetic testing in celiac disease, in which a person cannot consume foods with glutton. If a person with celiac disease consumes glutton, the cells in the intestines responsible for absorption of nutrients are destroyed and if not rectified the person will die. Both of theses diseases are treatable by just eating the appropriate diet.
In labs all over the world DNA research is being utilized in oder to understand diseases and how to treat them. All sorts of techniques are being used such as knock out mice and gene silencing. People are trying to use these techniques to better understand things like cancer. People want to know how it functions and how to destroy it without destroying the human body in the process. This intensive research has lead to what some might hold in their hearts a miracle. Scientists have just recently been able to create a feasible cure for AIDS. They were able to develop an enzyme that has the ability to cut out the HIV virus from the cell it inhabits. Trials have been conducted in mice and after three months no trace of the virus was left.
Who knows what the future holds. Maybe humanity will perish from some genetically modified super bug, maybe from nuclear winter, maybe global warming will get the better of us, or an asteroid. Who knows, but because of the horrible things that could come out of DNA research it does not mean people should stop the research, it just means that there needs to be regulations. We all know the destructive power of nuclear technology, yet we still have several nuclear power plants. People need to stop being afraid of the future, they need to embrace it. If we foster the proper research I have no doubt that many more scientific miracles will be born. What people need to do is to be active in understanding what is going on, because it is up to us to stand up, take responsibility, and decide what regulations need to be put in place. If we bury our heads in the sand it will be too late to prevent those with ill intentions from getting what they want. We will decide our fate, let's hope we decide well.