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B3 Discovery of DNA

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Introduction

GCSE Gateway Science Suite Research Study B3 Discovery of DNA 1. Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk, who lived from 1822 to 1884 (1). He first discovered the rules of genetics (1). Mendel, known as the 'Father of Genetics', started to investigate variation, hereditary, and the evolution of plants (8). He did experiments with pea plants, and carefully analysed seven plant characteristics (e.g. plant height) (8). Mendel discovered that offspring retained essential traits from their parents, and this instigated the concept of hereditary (9). The results from his pea experiments are known today as the Laws of Hereditary (8). 2. a) A gene is a section of DNA that 'codes' for a particular protein - proteins determine how an organism looks and acts (2, 7). A gene carries information about how living things grow and carry out their life processes (6). b) Genetic engineering is the process of moving genes from one organism to another (3, 14). For example, genetic engineering is used today in rice production (4). ...read more.

Middle

From other scientists, they already knew the following: DNA was made up of nucleotides; there were four bases in a DNA molecule - A, C, G, and T; and the basic structure of DNA was helical (16). By using nucleotide molecules made of wire, Watson and Crick assembled DNA in a manner which confirmed these existing scientific particulars (16). Watson and Crick then proposed that the DNA molecule was a double helix, shaped like a long, twisted ladder with rungs (called nucleotides) (6). 1 4. a) The human genome project was a 13-year effort coordinated by the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health (7). It began in 1990, and was planned to last for fifteen years, but rapid technological advances accelerated the completion date to 2003 (7). The project was initiated primarily to identify all genes in human DNA, and to determine the sequences of bases within human DNA (7). A unique feature of the project: the first large scientific undertaking to address potential ethical, legal, and social issues that transpired (7). ...read more.

Conclusion

Reasons against the genetic engineering of humans: * As there isn't enough scientific understanding of their impact on the environment, the inserted gene might have unexpected harmful effects (4, 13) * Loss of identity and individuality (11). * There may be adverse social implications (12). Those wealthy or privileged enough may engineer themselves or their children to have special characteristics, which could lead to a genetic aristocracy (e.g. increased memory and intelligence (12). These genetic enhancements would add to the burden of the inequality between rich and poor in today's society (12). b) I believe that genetic engineering of humans shouldn't be allowed. The predominant reason for this is because I'm a theist and feel that genetic engineering is a form of 'playing God', which is immoral (4). God's creatures shouldn't be interfered with, but left alone (4). Human genetic engineering leads to man usurping God as the almighty creator and designer of life (11). An engineered child would no longer be a gift from God; instead, a product manufactured by a scientist (11). ...read more.

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