The Bright Future of Genetic Engineering Essay

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The Bright Future of Genetic Engineering

Imagine the major food crops - corn, wheat, rice, soybeans - which can resist diseases - and resist pests - and create their own fertilizers - and resist extremes of weather. Imagine potatoes containing more protein, and other vegetables and fruits which contain more nutrients, taste better and resist rot. Can you imagine tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes. Imagine what such food crops could mean for a world population which will double in less than 40 years. Imagine a fundamental revolution in health care - with treatments and perhaps even cures for heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and AIDS. Richard J. Mahoney, 1993 (Wekesser 30)

Genetic engineering is a topic which
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For example, a human gene, which is a portion of the DNA specifically responsible for the manufacture of one protein, can be placed in a bacterium which will then produce that protein and only that protein. In hybrid breeding, the process is limited to plants and animals of similar species, and the results are far less predictable. A hybrid is as likely to have unintended negative characteristics as it is likely to have the positive traits for which it was breed. Through the use of recombinant DNA, scientists have the flexibility to combine desired characteristics from various organisms while retaining complete control of the outcome.

Recombinant DNA owes its existence to restriction enzymes. These enzymes which are contained within microbes can separate DNA at any specific segment of four nucleotides. Since there are almost 200 different restriction enzymes, scientists can separate the DNA molecule at almost any point. This process leaves the four nucleotides unconnected to their complimentary set. Referred to as the ‘sticky end,?these four nucleotides will then connect to their complementary pair in another strand of DNA that has been cleaved with a coordinated restriction enzyme. The resulting strand of DNA is physically indistinguishable from any other strand, however, it contains properties which otherwise would not have been present (Rosenthal 315).

The process of
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