Genetics or Evolution?

By Wankhade, Lalit | The World and I, May 2010 | Go to article overview

Genetics or Evolution?


Wankhade, Lalit, The World and I


Today, research on genetics has been discussed at several platforms and in varied parlance. Both, pros and cons are offered. But, it was Norman Borlaug who raised genetics to a high altar. He made us realize the importance of genetic research by offering a multitude of food programs that catered to the need of worldwide hunger. The green revolution has been the example of its excellence. Genetics became the catalyst for peace on the earth.

Research on genetics has been going ahead by leaps and bounds and the mapping of genetic code or genome was a pinnacle. Genetic mapping as a project, in the opinion of many scientists, is more important than the splitting of the atom or landing on the moon.

Nature, in the midst of the diverse existence of species, determines who will survive and who will perish. It is a long drawn out process called evolution. Genetic alterations and mutations are also undergone in this process, but at the snail's pace of nature.

We are becoming faster and faster in every walk of life with the advent of the industrial, technological and information revolution. Evolution takes a huge amount of time, which modern times do not want to spare on the fast-changing time scale. And the urge of modern genetics has been emerging in the unforeseen contour of evolution.

Imagine, after ten years, the same old version of a car with just a few modifications is offered. Is anybody going to buy it? In earlier days, car design used to take a couple of years before any vehicle was sold in a market. And customers had to wait for years together to receive a new model. Now, with the help of computer aided design, developing a new model of any automobile is feasible in a couple of months or even weeks. And with the help of modern manufacturing techniques it has been possible to bring the model into the market in far lesser time. Also, these new techniques produce a variety of models than the earlier one.

Genetics plays a similar role in nature. The desired species of flora and fauna can be obtained by genetic manipulations. The wheat we eat is a genetically modified version of a wild variety of wheat and grass. It took 30,000 years to reach the bread wheat by evolution. But to meet the need of worldwide hunger many varieties of wheat and other cereals are developed in a few decades of the green revolution. This is how modern genetics have played benevolent role for us and posterity together.

Modern genetics promises to play this benevolent role in every possible realm.

Health and medicine has been the most demanding field where humankind is struggling to get rid of lethal diseases. Antibiotics have their own limitations. Nearly one third of the diseases or infirmities that we are prone to involve mental aspects so that medicinal systems have to work on symptoms not just the root causes.

Modern genetics can offer fantastic benefits to the human lot and for the eradication of currently non-curbed diseases. The genetic code, stem cells and other things together will be able to produce in the future the most robust specie of Homo sapiens. By genetic alterations and modifications, the earlier varieties of flora and fauna will be replaced by the new refined varieties, where genetics has been playing the role of nature at faster pace. …

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