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IELTS Writing Task 2 – Topic “Genetic engineering”

Material from IELTS-Simon. Re-share for study purposes only.  

Genetic engineering is an important issue in society today. Some people think that it will improve people’s lives in many ways. Others feel that it may be a threat to life on earth. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Ideas

– Genetic engineering is the practice of manipulating the genes of an organism.
– It is used to produce crops that are more resistant to insects and diseases.
– Some genetically modified crops grow more quickly.
– Some drugs and vaccines are produced by genetic engineering.
– It may become possible to change a person’s genetic characteristics.
– Scientists may use genetic engineering to cure diseases.
Inherited illnesses would no longer exist.
– Genes could be changed before a baby is born.
– It could also be possible to clone human organs.
– We could have replacement body parts.
– Humans could live longer, healthier lives.

Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever – CRISPR

Essay Skeleton

Introduction
It is true that genetic engineering is a key area of modern scientific research, with broad implications for all human societies. While I accept that this field of technology may have its dangers, I believe that the benefits of genetic engineering outweigh the drawbacks.

Topic sentence, paragraph 2
The negative implications of genetic engineering are often discussed in terms of two key areas, which are food production and the cloning of humans.

Topic sentence, paragraph 3
A more optimistic prediction, and one that I favour, is that humans will find ways to mitigate the risks and use genetic technologies in a responsible way.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I am convinced that genetic engineering will have a positive impact on our lives, and that people’s fears will be unwarranted.

5-sentence Plan

  1. Topic sentence about two implications of genetic engineering: food production and cloning.
  2. Explain the food production point: genetically modified crops may damage ecosystems.
  3. Example: resistant corn kills insects, but this could affect birds.
  4. Explain the cloning point: clones could be used in wars or for body parts.
  5. Extend this point further and conclude: cloning to bring people back to life, which could threaten humanity.

Sample Essay from Simon

It is true that genetic engineering is a key area of modern scientific research, with broad implications for all human societies. While I accept that this field of technology may have its dangers, I believe that the benefits of genetic engineering outweigh the drawbacks.

The negative implications of genetic engineering are often discussed in terms of two key areas, which are food production and the cloning of humans. Genetically modified crops are already being grown, and people are concerned that they may damage whole ecosystems as foods become resistant to diseases and natural predatorsFor example, scientists are able to produce a variety of corn that releases a toxin to kill certain insects, but this intervention could lead to the disappearance of birds that feed on those insects. In the human realm, some people imagine a world in which clones are used to fight wars or to provide body part replacements. Perhaps cloning could even be used to bring deceased people back to life, which would certainly be a threat to humanity as we know it.

A more optimistic prediction and one that I favor is that humans will find ways to mitigate the risks and use genetic technologies in a responsible way. From the food production perspective, genetic engineering could be the solution to famine in developing countries, if, for instance, crops can be grown more reliably in harsh conditions. From a medical perspective, scientists may use genetic engineering to produce vaccines, to cure diseases, or to correct a genetic defect before a child is born. If properly regulated, even cloning can be done in a way that improves lives. For example, the cloning of individual organs, such as a heart or kidney, could be permitted for transplant purposes.

In conclusion, I am convinced that genetic engineering will have a positive impact on our lives and that people’s fears will be unwarranted.

(283 words, band 9)

Takeaways

  • It is true that …
  • While I accept that …, I believe that …
  • the benefits of … outweigh the drawback
  • with broad implications for
  • are often discussed in terms of …
  • could lead to …
  • birds that feed on those insects
  • Perhaps … could even be used to …
  • A more optimistic prediction and one that I favor is that …
  • … , if, for instance, …
  • From … perspective, …
  • I am convinced that
  • that people’s fear will be unwarranted
A cat is natural predator of a mouse
famine or starvation in developing countries

Analysis and improvement

Introduction: 2-sentence technique

The first sentence introduces the topic, using paraphrasing and some extra information. The second sentence covers both views and makes my own opinion clear.

Conclusion:

Before I write the conclusion:

  • I’m going to start with ‘In conclusion‘, and I want to write one concise sentence only.
  • I need to repeat the idea that the benefits of genetic engineering outweigh the drawbacks (using different words).
  • In my introduction, I used a “while” sentence (while I accept the dangers, I believe the benefits…).
  • So I’ll start my conclusion with the benefits and then use the phrase “in spite of” to mention the dangers.
  • Instead of “threat to life” or “dangers”, I could write about the “risks”.
  • Instead of “improve people’s lives”, I could write that it will have a “positive impact”.

Planning the ideas, improve responses:

The problem was that I didn’t follow my own advice: I wrote the main body paragraphs without doing a plan first.

Look at the ‘unplanned’ paragraph below:

Version 1 – highlighted sentences don’t extend my response
The negative implications of genetic engineering are often discussed in terms of two key areas, which are food production and the cloning of humans. Genetically modified crops are already being grown, and people are concerned that they may damage whole ecosystems as foods become resistant to diseases and natural predators. But perhaps even more worrying is the possibility that humans could be modified or cloned. Some people imagine a world in which cloned humans are used to fight wars or to provide body part replacements. Although perhaps not a threat to life on earth, the implications of such practices would be unprecedented.

Analysis:

  • The first highlighted sentence doesn’t extend my ideas. It would be better to go straight to the point about cloned humans fighting wars. I could then add more ‘depth’ and ‘detail’ to that particular idea, and this would help my task response score.
  • The second highlighted sentence is fine as a ‘concluding’ sentence, but it would be better if I explained what the “implications” are. Reading this sentence now, I can tell that I wrote it without planning; I relied on my vocabulary knowledge to cover up my lack of real ideas!

This is what happens when you neglect the planning stage. It’s so easy to write sentences that fill a space but don’t move the essay forward.

Version 2 – highlighted sentences extend and develop my ideas
The negative implications of genetic engineering are often discussed in terms of two key areas, which are food production and the cloning of humans. Genetically modified crops are already being grown, and people are concerned that they may damage whole ecosystems as foods become resistant to diseases and natural predators. For example, scientists are able to produce a variety of corn that releases a toxin to kill certain insects, but this intervention could lead to the disappearance of birds that feed on those insects. In the human realm, some people imagine a world in which clones are used to fight wars or to provide body part replacements. Perhaps cloning could even be used to bring deceased people back to life, which would certainly be a threat to humanity as we know it.

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