Genetical Engineering is Wrong

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At one time, golden rice was just a wild idea that Ingo Potrykus thought up. Optimally, golden rice would improve the lives of millions of the poorest people in the world. The rice would contain beta-carotene which is the building block for vitamin A. However, imagining golden rice was one thing and bringing it into existence was another. He struggled for years with his colleagues to deal with the finicky growing habits of the rice they transplanted to a greenhouse near the foot hills of the Swiss Alps. Potrykus and his colleagues became successful in the spring of 1999. By creating golden rice, Potrykus wanted to be sure it would reach malnourished children of the developing world; those for whom it was intended. He knew that would not be easy because of the fact that the golden grains also contained snippets of DNA borrowed from bacteria and daffodils. Being a product of genetical engineering, Potrykus's product was entangled in a web of hopes, fears, and political baggage.

Until now, genetically engineered crops were created to resist insect pests or to control the growth of weeds by using herbicides. However, in this circumstance the genetically engineered rice not only benefits the farmers who grow it, but primarily the consumers who eat it. These consumers include at least a million children who die every year because they are weakened by vitamin-A deficiency and an additional 350,000 people who go blind. In addition to this concern, there is another. It is prospected that by the year 2020, the demand for grain, both for human consumption and for animal feed, is projected to go up by nearly half, while the amount of farmable land will probably dwindle, thus introducing a whole new series of problems.

There is only a short four step process that enables one to produce golden rice. The genes that give golden rice is its ability to make beta-carotene in its endosperm come from daffodils and a bacterium called Erwinia uredovora. These genes, along with promoters (segments of DNA that activate genes), are inserted into plasmids that occur inside a species of bacterium known as Agrobacterium tumefaciens. These agrobacteria are then added to a Petri dish containing rice embryos. As they "infect" the embryos, they also transfer the genes that encode the instructions for making beta-carotene. The transgenic rice plants must now be crossed with ...

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...nly be a matter of time before we are choosing what our children will look like.

Works Cited

Curry, Andrew. "New Genes? Cool Beans!." U.S. News & World Report, 9/11/2000. Vol. 129 Issue 10.

Epstein, Ron. "Why You Should Be Concerned About Genetically Engineered Food." August 2000. <http://mercury.sfsu.deu/~rone/gedanger.html> (15 Nov 2000).

Fischer, Joannie. "Passing on Perfection: Successes, and more cautions for gene therapy." U.S. News & World Report, 10/02/2000, Vol. 129, Issue 13.

Pennis, Elizabeth and Normile, Dennis. "Golden Grains," Science Now, 4 Aug 2000, p3.

Pure Food Campaign, The. What's Wrong With Genetic Engineering? June 2000. <> (15 Nov 2000).

Robinson, Bina. "Golden Gift." Technology Review. Sept/Oct 2000, vol.103, p. 17-20.

Russo, Enzo and David Cove. Genetic Engineering: Dreams and Nightmares. New York: W.H.Freeman, 1995.

Spotts, Peter. "The Unwitting Labs of Genetic Modification." Christian Science Monitor, 9/5/2000. Vol. 92 Issue 1989.

Tangley, Laura. "Engineering the Harvest." U.S. News & World Report. 3/13/2000, Vol. 128, Issue 10.

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