Impacts of advances in science and technology

Positive impacts

Science and technology can bring benefits to people's lives. A benefit is a positive effect of a product or a process.

For example:

  • syntheticfertilisers increase crop yields
  • genetic modification of crops to be pesticide or pest resistant
  • bacteria have been genetically modified to possess the human gene for insulin
  • Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned
  • farmyard animals and crops have been selectively bred to increase their yield, taste or appearance
  • mycoprotein (protein from fungi) is now grown in fermenters to replace protein from meat - it can be grown in a wider range of places and is far more energy efficient than meat from animals
Question

How has genetic modification helped Type 1 diabetics?

Bacteria have been genetically modified to possess the human gene for insulin. As they grow, these transgenic microorganisms now produce human insulin. Type 1 diabetics use this to regulate their blood sugar.

Risks

A risk is an estimate of the likelihood that an undesired outcome will happen. The size of a risk is estimated based on the chance of it happening in a large sample, and over a specified length of time.

Advances in science and technology can bring risks. Scientists devise ways to reduce these risks.

For example - the burning of fossil fuels increases the emission of air pollutants such as carbon dioxide. This gas is a greenhouse gas. Increased emissions of greenhouse gases brings a risk to human health and of climate change.

Scientists have designed catalytic converters and gas scrubbers to help mitigate (reduce) these emissions.

Question

What is a risk of genetic modification of crop plants?

Some people are worried that the genes that are inserted into crop plants might spread to wild plants creating 'superweeds'.