The Moral Implications of Genetic Engineering An Essay on the Basis of Buddhism

Buddhism’s most prominent aspect of teaching is that one should not harm or kill any living being. Each and every animal possesses Buddha-nature, and has the potential to become a Buddha, that is, to become fully and perfectly enlightened. Among the sentient, there is no superior or inferior class of animal. Human beings are not privileged in the manner that they have the right to decide who is chosen to live, die, be altered, or not be altered. The world was not created specifically for the benefit and pleasure of human beings. Furthermore, in accordance to their karma, a human can be reincarnated as an animal, and an animal can be reincarnated as a human. Each sentient being is equal, and on this basis, the iniquitous and irrevocable result of genetic engineering is and will always be morally unjust.
The most important and contradictory aspect of genetic engineering, is that one should not harm or kill another sentient being. In Buddhism that is of utmost importance. Because Buddhism is the continuous process of becoming enlightened, and one can never become fully and perfectly enlightened when he/she does not follow the fundamental moral guidelines, one of which is the abstinence of killing, genetic engineering cannot be allowed. Many of the animals used in genetic engineering endure great pain and suffering. These mutations inflicted upon these animals are appalling. The animals often suffer from crippling arthritis, distorted vision, deformities, and physical anomalies of the internal organs. Pro-Genetic Engineering speakers often contend that animals are of less moral value than humans. This is completely objectified. Both humans and the rest of animals have appreciation for life and have the fear of death. Even when one of the smallest animals, a mosquito flies near a person, the slightest movement of the person sends the mosquito flying away, simply, because the mosquito does not want to die. These animals are literally harvested for the pleasure of the human species. Each day one hundred thousand cattle alone are murdered. This is hard to justify at any level. Pro-Genetic Engineering speakers would condemn the killing of one hundred thousand humans and this in no way different than the slaughter of 100,000 cattle. Not until Pro-Genetic Engineering speakers, endure the suffering they place upon animals can they claim that animals are of less moral value.
Secondly, the degradation of the environment is another detrimental effect of genetic engineering. Buddhism opposes any ideology and action that adversely effects the environment. Because nature directly affects our bodies and minds, any harmful effects on the environment would mean harmful effects on our bodies and minds, and preclude our ability to become enlightened. Genetically engineering adversely affects the environment in several ways; the genetically-altered genes of crops pollute to other plants and animals, and are fundamentally different than other types of pollution, in the fact that they are irreversible. Also, these crops promote the use of pesticides and herbicides, which are often responsible for illnesses in farm workers and the contamination of water sources. Herbicides and pesticides meant for genetically engineered crops often destroy organic crops, and kill advantageous insects such as bees, ladybirds, lacewings, and butterflies, and earthworms. This puts the environment at risk of destroying its ability to stabilize to the point of equilibrium. Pro-Genetic Engineering speakers often contend that genetically-altered crops would also help solve world-hunger. This is completely Utopian in belief. They believe that these altered crops would help solve, but in fact, the problem of world hunger is caused by the irregular division of wealth and corrupt governments. Not unless they attack the problem at its source can they even hope to solve for world hunger.
In its entirety, genetic engineering presents huge moral implications. The allowance of genetic engineering in the world will permit murder of sentient beings and the degradation of the environment, both of which are not allowed by Buddhism. It is and will always be immoral to allow this blatant act to happen.