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"The impact of the discovery of DNA on medicine, biotechnology and agriculture."

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Introduction

"The impact of the discovery of DNA on medicine, biotechnology and agriculture." DNA has had a massive impact on medicine and agriculture. Biotechnology, which I was less familiar with can be defined as "the application of organisms, biological systems or processes to the manufacturing and service industries" (The Royal Society, 1981). Whole organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae are used and the estimated market is more than �40 billion per annum. Many manufacturing companies use DNA in a wide variety of industries. These include brewing (using gibberellins to speed up fermentation), cheese manufacture (ripened with Penicillium species), baking (strains of S. cerevisiae as a raising agent), waste disposal and extraction of metal and minerals (copper leached from rocks by bacteria). The two industries I am going to concentrate on are medicine and agriculture. Since the 1930s lots of research has been put into isolating natural chemicals that have antibiotic properties (i.e. ...read more.

Middle

The procedure for this is very complicated because insulin has two polypeptide chains. Firstly, two artificial DNA molecules that code for the two appropriate amino acid chains are synthesised. These are introduced into separate bacteria by the process for synthetic genes. After growing large quantities of the bacteria in fermenters, they are split open, the chains purified and then chemically combined in an oxidation reaction. They then behave exactly the same as natural human insulin and insulin is now used in routine clinical practice throughout the world. There is a 1 in 5000 chance that too little of the human growth hormone (GH), in extreme cases causes pituitary dwarfism. Growth hormones from animals are not effective in humans, but injections of GH can overcome this problem, although they are in very short supply and are very expensive considering that they can only be obtained from pituitary glands of human cadavers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Protein is derived from the large-scale growth of micro-organisms (e.g. bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae) and can be put to use as animal feed. There are lots of advantages for this: they occupy less room than normal crops and animals, they grow much more rapidly and they can grow on a wide variety of cheap or waste products of agriculture. Sadly, there are even more disadvantages. These include: agricultural surpluses becoming common in developed countries, developing countries not being able to afford the investment in equipment and training, an increase in production and reduction of the price of competitive animal feed additives, and a rise in oil prices in the late 1970s due to SCP production being energy-intensive. In conclusion, DNA synthesis can increase the yields from livestock and crops using SCP or growth hormones, meaning that more may be sold on the market, increasing income for farmers. This is important, but the impact of the discovery of DNA has been far more consequential in medicine, where it helps to produce vaccines, insulin shots and antibiotics that save millions of lives and improve peoples' quality of life. ...read more.

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