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Implications of Genetic Engineering.

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Introduction

Implications of Genetic Engineering DNA is known as the building blocks for life; the genetic code from which all aspects of every living organism is derived. In the past number of years a process known as genetic engineering has been developed, which alters the make up of DNA hence altering how the cell operates. Genetic engineering is simply adding a gene from an organism into the DNA of another. There are a number of techniques. Restriction enzymes are used to cut the strings of DNA in different places and select the required genes. These genes are usually then inserted into circular pieces of DNA (plasmids), generally found in bacteria which can reproduce in a very short space of time, creating many "clones". If the gene is to be inserted into a plant or animal a "ferry" is used; a piece of genetic material taken from a virus or a bacterium and "smuggles" the new gene into the plant. A commonly used ferry is the bacterium Agrobacterium tumifaciens. Another option being to coat tiny pieces of gold or tungsten with the gene and bombard a layer of cells from the recipient plant with these, the desired effect being that some pellets may penetrate the nuclease and the gene become integrated into the cells own DNA. ...read more.

Middle

The problem is simply distribution not shortage. Greenpeace argue that an increase in yield of crops would benefit the hungry in the world as the problem lies within politics and the greed of multi-national companies. In a statement to the UN 24 African Nations declared their resentment of being used as "Guinea Pigs" for GM crops due to the situation they are in. The Irish Potato Famine of 1845-49 was down to a case of non-bio-diversity meaning that a single crop dominated the surrounding environment. The introduction of disease resistant, hardy plants in certain areas may lead to a vulnerability to a certain pest or weed. Diversity in crops would not lead to a reliance on one single product for income or nourishment leading to a safeguard from catastrophe for the farmer. These so-called "Super Plants" may also lead to the extinction of many indigenous native crops of a similar kind. This is what happened in the so-called "Green Revolution" when western powers put pressure on 3rd world farmers to use a more hardy foreign variety of their preferred crop leading to the extinction of the indigenous variety. Due to the similar effects of Genetic Modification it has become known as the "Gene Revolution". With genetic crops there is also the chance of "Genetic Pollution" caused by cross pollination. ...read more.

Conclusion

While again tampering with the genetic code of a living organism; the effects on humans or the environment do not seem as damaging or dangerous. Genetic modification and medicine have clashed however with the emergence over the last number of years of so-called "Super Bugs" bacteria resistant to all known Antibiotics. It has been claimed this is due to the overuse of such antibiotic resistance genes in animal feeds and GM Crops, for it is such genes which are used in labelling most GM products; it has been claimed these genes have been passed on to certain bacteria. A common example in hospitals being Staphylococcus aureus. A study in 1999 indicated that Oral Bacteria could pick up DNA from food or other bacteria in the mouth, leading to the assumption that so could many other harmful bacteria. This has led me to the conclusion that in the future genetic engineering will be a wonderful thing and will benefit many people but as of now when there is so little known on the subject it seems wise to keep it and its consequences away from the public. The little we actually know about Genetic Engineering was highlighted in an experiment where the gene red pigment was transferred from a Maize Plant to a petunia. Apart from turning white, not red, the flowers had more leaves and shoots, a higher resistance to fungi and lowered fertility. ...read more.

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