Recently, we have heard reports about bio-hacking. Unlike hacking into the computer software to steal private data, bio-hacking seems a beneficial task. It tries to manipulate the genes in a cell to cause it to perform in a certain desired fashion. A positive term for this activity is known as bio-engineering.
Bio-engineering has already altered the nature of many crops such as rice, tomato and water melon. The motive is to increase production, shelf life, taste, and resistance to tough weather and disease. Despite all the positive things that the agriculture business tries to promote, the public is not yet convinced because human-engineered food sounds too artificial, if not doubtful and dangerous. Public suspicion about bio-engineered food has sparked the current trend of organic food. The public is even willing to pay a higher price because they want natural products without being tempered by human technology. In fact, organic food tastes better and fresh.
It may be difficult for bio-engineered food to be accepted. Non-food products seem to offer greater promise. In medicine, new drugs are manufactured by manipulating the genes of certain bacteria to produce anti-toxins to treat cancer. Algae are mass-produced to absorb carbon dioxide to combat climate change. A bio-engineered mushroom can grow building materials like blocks of bricks that can be recycled easily as shown on TV. Some university researchers are optimistic about growing trees that emit lights like a firefly so that we can do away with street lamps. Even growing a cell phone is considered a possibility if not science fiction.
The world of the future seems exciting and fictional as well as uncertain and dangerous. One major concern is that a mistake or accident may cause the bio-engineering process to spin out of control. Nobody knows how to fix it, nor understands what the consequences will be. This is a new area of study wrought with great promises as well as dangers. The government is urged to enact laws to supervise and control its development. But how do they begin when they have no idea what will happen?